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Picture Books that Inspire Kids, and Grown-ups too!

October 23rd, 2020

I’ve now got two lovely grandsons (who I don’t see anywhere near enough of under current restrictions). The elder, who’s just turned four, has always loved books so every  time I visit I try to find something new. And that’s not as easy as it sounds.

The shops are packed with glossy picture books but the actual content is often meaningless drivel that certainly doesn’t stimulate a young mind (and I’m not talking genius level here). Books for kids basically need to be relevant to their lives and what they know about. Only once you’ve put this in place can you start adding the things that will stretch their imagination (dinosaurs, witches, talking pumpkins). So, if you think you can tell a good tale and may be considering writing a picture book then which authors set a brilliant example?

Julia Donaldson, without doubt. Check out Stickman, The Snail and the Whale, Superworm and Room on the Broom. They’re all beautifully illustrated, fun to read aloud and have enough content for little ones to become totally absorbed – and they’re usually available in most supermarkets. So many of the books I’ve looked at try for a moral but it’s done in a heavy-handed  way or they struggle too hard for  politically correctness. The books I’ve mentioned all make a good  point without virtue signalling.

But our favourites at the moment are the ‘Harry’ books by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds. We cut our teeth on Harry and his Bucketfull of Dinosaurs but there are lots of others, including a trip to the dentist, playing in the snow, going on holiday. All are really relevant to a toddler’s life experiences and Harry is no saint – which appeals to most kids. Do check them out if you want to see how a picture book should be written!

Now on to something completely different. If you’ve not already done so, watch The Secret History of Writing on BBC iPlayer. It’s not really about putting together books, articles etc – it’s more about the mechanics and history of writing and printing – the materials, fonts, languages  etc.  that can be used. That probably sounds dry, but I can assure you it’s fascinating. There are three programmes in the series and I found some of the facts (especially in the third one) amazing.

Two things to remind you of before I introduce my guest for next week. First, our Flash Fiction Competition is running until the end of November. There are prizes of £300, £200 and £100 – plus a Writers Bureau course of your choice for the three winners.

Next, have you considered joining the Association of Freelance Writers? There are lots of advantages, but some of the highlights include: 50% of your first year’s subscription to Writing Magazine (the UK’s biggest and best-selling magazine for writers); reduced entry to our annual competitions; discount on courses from other providers; free enrolment on one of our online courses PLUS a free appraisal of up to 2000 words of prose or 120 lines of poetry. This last item alone is worth more than your annual subscription of £24.99; so it really is worth having a closer look.

My guest next week is Alison Reed who will be giving you her experience of working with a writing circle and how helpful it can be for improving your work, giving you confidence and helping you to feel less isolated.

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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