Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

Children's Picture Story Plot Ideas that Grab Young Readers

4 min read

It takes a great cover to pull a young reader in, but it takes an intriguing story plot to keep them engaged

The art of storytelling when it comes to young readers is vastly different than writing for an older reader.

The way you tell the story and the types of stories that are created for them require a different way of thinking.

Children love to expand on their imagination and use aspects of the world around them to do so. This means that writers in children's fiction need to try to look at storytelling through a child's eyes. How can you make the world and storytelling interesting to these young readers?

This is where market research comes into play.

Which stories have done well?

Here is a list of popular titles in children's picture books:

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

  2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

  3. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

  4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault

  5. Corduroy by Don Freeman

  6. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jacks Keats

  7. No, David! by David Shannon

  8. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

  9. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

  10. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess

  11. Curious George by H. A. Ray

  12. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

  13. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

  14. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

  15. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

On this list above, the stories vary from imaginative telling's to spins on the everyday aspects of life.

Now the question is, how can we as writers, create wonderful stories that haven't been created before?

Decide on the Goal and Theme You Are Trying to Convey

Like every story that is written, there is a point or a goal to convey to the reader.

In terms of a children's picture book, the writer needs to decide what the moral of the story is. What are your readers going to take away from your story? And how can the reader relate to the story?

Decide the Books Narrative

This means you are deciding your writing style for the book, the character development, and the setting.

Your books narrative will also follow an arch such as the following:

  • Set-up of the scene/ scenario, characters, and tone of the story

  • Introducing the problem/ incident the protagonist faces

  • Showing the reader what the protagonist does in reaction to the incident

  • Show the climax of the story

  • Guide the reader toward the protagonist's final resolution to the problem

  • End with the resolution

Pinpoint the Target Audiences Age

Picture book readers' ages range from birth to 8 years old.

Each age grouping requires a specific word count that authors should adhere to. However, the industry standard is 500–600 words.

Ages 2–5: 200–400 words

Ages 3–8: 500–600 words

Ages 6–10: 1,000- 3,000 words

Once you figure out the basic details that are going to build your story, you need to decide on the story type itself.

Here are some popular story ideas:

  1. Mythical creatures (Dragons, Elves, Faries, Unicorns)

  2. FairyTale (Princess, Prince's, retellings of old fairytales)

  3. Family Stories (stories about generations, family traditions, a day in the life)

  4. Outer Space (Explorers, aliens, spaceships)

  5. Gardening (Flowers, trees, growing a garden, growing food, seasonal gardening)

  6. Holiday (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Grandparents Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving)

  7. Friendship (Between animals, children, or a group of friends)

  8. Silly Concepts (animals being silly, stories that make children laugh)

These are just a few story ideas to get you started.

In the end, no one knows what young readers will truly latch onto.

Creating a story that has a heart and can grab a young reader's attention is the goal and is a difficult feat. However, once you have achieved it, the payoff is wonderful.