Writing for Children: Create A Picture Book!

with Kelly Bingham

how to write a children's picture book

| 6 Weeks |



From Goodnight Moon to The Cat in the Hat, most of us have fond memories of favorite picture books from our childhood. Perhaps you have thought, “I wonder if I could write a picture book of my own?” Maybe you already have a great idea, percolating away, and would like a little guidance getting started. This class is for you!

Picture books have changed greatly over the last few decades, and the market is wide open for fresh ideas. Picture books are no longer simply humorous adventures or whacky animals (though there’s plenty of room for those, too.) Picture books can be about anything and everything, from concepts to emotions to fantasy to non-fiction. Even wordless picture books are a category now—and yes, “wordless” picture books still require writers! Whatever your idea is, whatever you like to write about—why not shape that idea into a story?

If you’re new to the picture book genre (or children’s writing in general,) join us in this six-week intensive where we’ll take that idea of yours and turn it into a manuscript! Along the way, we’ll touch on some of the fundamentals of creating picture books—it’s not as easy as it may seem, but it’s a genre that is richly rewarding and full of creative opportunities. And no worries—no artistic ability is required to write a picture book. This class will focus on the writing end of the project, and there is no need to worry about ‘finding’ an illustrator on your own to complete your manuscript.

Kelly Bingham is the best teacher I have worked with. She is specific in her critiques. She is kind and patient. Young writers will learn a tremendous amount from Kelly. I feel very blessed to have found her.
—Wendy Carbo

How It Works

Each Wednesday, I will post a lecture on a topic pertaining to writing a picture book manuscript. There will be brief homework assignments each week, and they are optional. (But highly recommended.) We will have a group classroom area to share our homework, give each other feedback, and share tips, questions, thoughts, and book recommendations each and every week. Let’s get to know each other and use the class as an opportunity to share resources about writing for children, or the writing process in general. (PS: None of the classes are ‘live,’ so you check in as you are able and read each lecture at your leisure.)

Each student will receive plenty of weekly one-on-one critiquing from myself. In Weeks 1 and 2, we study story structure and character—fundamental to have in place before you begin writing. In weeks 4, 5, and 6, we will draft and revise full manuscripts.

By the time our six weeks is up, you’ll have had multiple opportunities to have your work read and critiqued, go back and revise, and share your work again. (Or start a new manuscript if you like.) You will leave class with at least one manuscript with notes from class that you can continue revising all the way to submission-ready!

What We’ll Cover

  • What picture books are… and what they aren’t
  • Why picture books are usually 32 pages
  • The various categories of picture books and age ranges
  • Topics of picture books
  • Industry Awards for Picture Book Excellence
  • Thinking visually!
  • How to use a storyboard
  • Opening lines–hook your young reader
  • Revising, cutting, and trimming
  • Tension and pacing
  • Character “desire”
  • Page turns
  • Read Aloud-ability
  • Searching for an Agent
  • Writing a query letter

I hope to see you in class. We’ll do lots of reading of picture books, as well, so come prepared to share your favorites! Happy Writing!

Why Take a Children’s Book Writing Course with Writers.com?

  • We welcome writers of all backgrounds and experience levels, and we are here for one reason: to support you on your writing journey.
  • Small groups keep our online writing classes lively and intimate.
  • Work through your weekly written lectures, course materials, and writing assignments at your own pace.
  • Share and discuss your work with classmates in a supportive class environment.
  • Award-winning instructor Kelly Bingham will offer you direct, personal feedback and suggestions on every assignment you submit.

Want to hear more from Kelly on the young adult poetry novel? See her writers.com interview.

Learn how to create a children’s picture book. Reserve your spot today!

Questions about the course content? Contact instructor directly.
Learn more about how our courses work here, and contact us with any other questions.

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Student Feedback for Kelly Bingham:

Kelly Bingham is the best teacher I have worked with. She is specific in her critiques. She is kind and patient. Young writers will learn a tremendous amount from Kelly. I feel very blessed to have found her. Wendy Carbo

This course FAR exceeded my expectations. It was my first time taking a writing class and the content of the course helped me to move forward on a project that has been sitting in the back of my mind for years. Kelly was quite simply PHENOMENAL—she was open, responsive, encouraging, and peppered her lively sense of humor through the critiques and lessons. Gwendolyn Robles

This course exceeded my expectations! I'm so glad I found it. Kelly was very generous with her feedback, offering many thoughtful suggestions and comments. Over 6 weeks, I completely restructured my manuscript with Kelly's help, and it is now a much stronger story. I've taken other picture book writing courses, but this course was by far the most helpful. Heather OConnor

I truly appreciated Kelly as a teacher. Her comments and suggestions were extremely helpful. The lessons were very informative and helpful as well. I am so glad I took this course. Ksenia Winnicki

This course was a great step-by-step instruction for someone like me who has never written a book. Kelly was great to work with, very knowledgeable and helpful. Jodi Tormey

Kelly is an excellent teacher. She is encouraging, thoughtful and so inspirational. I felt that she really worked with me on a close personal level, and her feedback was very helpful. The tutorials were very good, with lots of examples and clear key points. Joining this course with Kelly has given me much more confidence as a writer. Kathleen de Mengel

The teacher was very good. Kelly is patient and gave many excellent suggestions. She was also very responsive and thorough. Tobias Vogelstein

The course was well laid out and challenging. Kelly's lecture were well-crafted and packed with useful information. I had a great experience! Michele Noble

Really positive experience. Kelly was a wonderful teacher, with lots of guidance and positivity. Paula McEvenue

Kelly Bingham gave great editing advice, her lessons were chock full of information, and she was very pleasant and encouraging. I know my story is so much better because of this class and Kelly! Joan Jensen

An interesting class. Exceptionally organized. Lots of information and a caring knowledgeable teacher. Kelly ran a class that offered a wealth of knowledge, and was always supportive and willing to offer insights. I enjoyed the class immensely. Ariela Zucker

Kelly Bingham is very encouraging and positive. My writing improved and I received great comments, insight, and feel more confident about my story. Genevieve Bardwell

Great course, great experience–and all for a great price. Highly recommended. Meg Eden

Kelly was terrific as a teacher. Available, open, honest and also caring with her comments and feedback. Kelly was extremely helpful and willing and open to discuss her comments and lessons as well as the books on the reading list. The lessons were presented on time and her feedback by email and in the forums was terrific and timely. The course material was well-organized with many wonderful examples provided for each lesson. And a great reading list. Suzanne Purvis

Kelly is an excellent teacher. Her lectures were fabulous, and her approach was both professional and generous. I felt encouraged and challenged every week, and I have a much better understanding of this genre because of her guidance. Barbara Santucci

Kelly is so obviously an expert in her area. I loved her personable and positive approach to critique and feedback. This is a rigorous writing class. However, that’s what I wanted. I really feel that I gained a lot of insight and skill during this time. I already have recommended these classes to friends. : ) Heather Woodward

About Kelly Bingham

Kelly Bingham is the author of two award-winning poetry novels: Shark Girl and Formerly Shark Girl, both published by Candlewick Press. Kelly is also the author of two award-winning picture books: Z Is For Moose and the sequel, Circle, Square, Moose, published by Harpercollins/Greenwillow. Both are illustrated by Caldecott Award-winning artist Paul O. Zelinsky. Kelly’s YA poetry novel, Shark Girl, was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club for Kids, and was nominated by the American Library Association for Best Book for Young Adults. It won the Iowa Teen Choice Award, and was nominated for the Truman Award, The Schneider Family Book Award, and the Rebecca Caudill Award. Shark Girl was also nominated for the Golden Sower Award, the Black-Eyed Susan Award, the South Dakota Teen Book Award, and the Florida Book Award. Shark Girl was chosen by School Library Journal as a “quick pick for reluctant readers.” Formerly Shark Girl, the sequel to Shark Girl, was published in 2013, after years of requests by readers for more of Jane’s story. It earned a starred review in Kirkus and was chosen for Bank Street’s Best Book for Children. Both of Kelly’s “Moose” picture books have been featured in the New York Times. Z Is For Moose received six starred reviews, was the winner of the Delaware Blue Hen Award, an ALA Notable Book, a Booklist Editor’s Choice for Best Books, winner of a special award from The Horn Book, a Best Book by Shelf Awareness, and winner of the Oppenheim Award. Circle, Square, Moose was named a Best Book by Kirkus, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, and was nominated for the UKLA Award in Australia. Kelly holds a master’s degree in writing for children from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Before becoming an author, she spent twelve years as a storyboard artist in the story department at Walt Disney Feature Animation, working on films that include Hercules, Atlantis, The Emperor’s New Groove, Gnomeo and Juliet, and Tarzan.  She lives in Georgia.