Children's Picture Story Plot Ideas that Grab Young Readers
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:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jacks Keats
No, David! by David Shannon
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess
Curious George by H. A. Ray
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
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:
Mythical creatures (Dragons, Elves, Faries, Unicorns)
FairyTale (Princess, Prince's, retellings of old fairytales)
Family Stories (stories about generations, family traditions, a day in the life)
Outer Space (Explorers, aliens, spaceships)
Gardening (Flowers, trees, growing a garden, growing food, seasonal gardening)
Holiday (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Grandparents Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving)
Friendship (Between animals, children, or a group of friends)
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.