How Much of a Message Should a Picture Book Have?

For some reason many people who know very little about writing picture books think a picture book has to teach something, that it has to be educational, that it has to have a moral.

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There is one common truth with all writing whether it’s a novel, short story, poem, news story, Romance, Science Fiction, Picture Book or almost anything that people are expected to buy: It tells a story. Underneath, there is usually something being taught, something educational, a moral. However, whatever that might be is immaterial. Often it’s the reader who finds it. Often the author didn’t know it was there, because it wasn’t something the author was concerned with.

A good Picture Book tells a story first and foremost. Today the better non-fiction Picture Books weave the facts, the details into a story. Even the Picture Books that are referred to as Concept Books (picture books that are often plot-less because their emphasis is on a concept), usually have a story to tell.

A good writer has stories to tell. Good readers want to hear stories. Good writing is as simple as that. There’s no reason to make it more difficult (and it is difficult) by trying to build a story around a moral or something the author feels needs to be taught.

I just finished reading Tara Lazar’s latest Goodreads blog, “What’s Wrong With Writing Message-Driven Picture Books?” It says much the same thing.

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