Kids like the concept that a poem has at least nine lives. You can even draw a poem like a cat. Writing the children's book that emphasizes healthy foods and eating habits? Here's how to start. You can write children's books either nonfiction or stories that emphasize eating healthy nutrition such as lots of vegetables, fruits, and other good foods that build up children's minds and bodies. Listen to my MP3 audio podcast on how to write popular-style children's books. Take your poem and turn it into a children's picture book, for example...or use your original poem for inspiration. To get inspiration for a poem, check out a proverb.
Use universal proverbs, poems, and folk tales to find and expand story material that you will turn into children’s books. The more your pictures speak, the fewer words you need to tell your story. You may find helpful my MP3 audio podcast of the full-length audio MP3 file podcast version of How to Write Popular-Style Children's Books. You can download the instructional techniques on writing children's books as your inspirational guide.
Download the talk and use it as a guideline for inspiration to write your own original works. Looking to turn your poems or song lyrics into children's books or stories? Additionally, what can be helpful is my "Let me take on Wall Street" poetry series. Can you turn your own poems into children's stories or books? Listen the the MP3 audio podcast of the poems or read the print version of these poems at Examiner.com site of the poems. Use your favorite original poems to practice turning into children's books.
Also check out my paperback book, How to Turn Poems, Lyrics, & Folklore into Salable Children's Books: Using Humor or Proverbs by Anne Hart (Aug 17, 2005). See my YouTube video on how to write children's books where you can incorporate themes on nutrition or imaginative writing using poems, proverbs, or humor.
Your next step is to connect with schools that invite book authors to classrooms or auditoriums. Ask children what makes them laugh, what makes them feel like themselves, and what they’d like to see in a book written with a particular age group in mind. You can use proverbs and animals to illustrate what vegetables and fruits are eaten by the animation-type animals. For younger children, text and touch with fabric in the books can imitate the feel of vegetables and berries or various fruits.
Visit schools if you want people to know you turn poems into children’s books. Let teachers, librarians, children, and parents’ groups know you write and/or illustrate books for children. Visit schools and become involved with programs that invite children’s book authors to visit schools, community centers, libraries, or other public settings to talk to children in group settings. Before you visit each school, create a program that you can tailor to fit the needs of a particular teacher’s curriculum. Ask for a written contract from each school. Make sure the contract shows what you’ll be paid and what you’re expected to do for these half-day visits.
Speak to small groups in classrooms or larger groups in auditoriums. If you don’t want to speak yourself, then organize speaker’s panels of authors and publishers who create, develop, or market children’s books. Offer to match speaker and school from among a list of published authors.
Provide keynote speakers for writers or educational conventions and school visits. Charge a 20 percent commission for matching the speaker with a school, professional association meeting, event planner, or corporate convention if the speaker is paid.
Stay connected with authors and publishers and the people who buy books. You can work part time matching speakers with schools or professional associations and writers’ conventions. You’ll get to know authors who speak publicly for a fee and their publishers. Your poems are hidden markets for children’s books. Here’s how to turn those poems into books and spin-offs. Not all writers enjoy speaking in public.
Popular children’s book authors who spend a half-day visiting a school command fees of $1,500 or more per visit. Inexperienced authors usually are offered less to start. You can host book signing events for more than one author and include yourself.
Work with your local PTA and ask whether you can have a teacher send home order forms for your book with each child at the end of the school day. Plan writing contests in partnership with various book stores.
Many books and articles tell you how to write a children’s book and how to promote your published writing. This book shows you step-by-step how to turn your poetry into salable and popular children’s books and spin-offs such as songs, audio books, animation scripts, games, toys, puppet theatre scripts, or learning materials.
The formula for adapting a poem to become a children’s book is to make your poem more concrete—more detailed by using action verbs instead of adjectives. Active verbs replace most adjectives when you turn your poem into a children’s book. Pare down the words in your poem to only what is necessary to make clearer the story line and most important message.
After all, it has been said that you get to the universal through the details. You show value by simplifying the message. Simplification means using short sentences that engage all the senses. A person isn’t merely described in a story as shy. He takes a sudden interest in his shoes.
Show body language and gestures. Gestures after dialogue in a novel or story are labeled as “the tag lines.” These gestures are used to describe action behind the words. An example is: “Yes,” she sniffed with disdain.
Tag lines are body gestures that answer the question ‘how’ she or he said the line of dialogue in any story or novel. These body gestures are seen by the person to whom your particular character speaks.
Then that character reacts to the other person’s body language and words with body gestures of his own. You describe the gestures with more tag lines. Additional words of dialogue are spoken. Then you insert a sentence of description.
Children’s books for readers aged four to eight use a few sentences of text and nearly an entire page filled with illustration. Older readers use less illustration and more text. First decide what age group you want to emphasize.
Next, select a suitable-themed poem and make a list of the most important messages in the poem. Your last step is to circle the words that stand out as story material before you begin to write your book.
Do you want to adapt your poem, folklore, or song lyric to a story book of words or pictures? Use words to amplify your images. Use pictures to expand words.
Tell a story with pictures. Let words take second place to illustrations when you write picture books for the very young child, aged 0 to 4. Words outnumber pictures when you’re writing for children aged nine to 12. Many children’s books for readers aged 4 to 8 use two thirds of the page for pictures and one or two paragraphs of words.
Decide first whether you will write a story book or a picture book. Then use the images in your poem, song lyric, proverb, oral history, or folkloric tale to clarify your writing. You won’t be able to read a picture book into a tape recorder or turn it into a radio play. A book emphasizing words over pictures can be adapted to narration for an audio book or radio play. Here’s how to make your abstract, salable poem vividly concrete and turn it into a well-crafted children’s book.
Making a Concrete Story out of an Abstract Poem
Capture Your Children’s Dreams
Start with an inspirational poem or song lyrics. You can make something out of nothing. You can make a story out of anything intangible, such as an idea with a plan still in your mind. An oral history, folktale, or story is something that comes from nothing that you can put your hands on. Capture your children’s dreams.
What children want in a book, poem, or folklore is a cave where they can go to be themselves. When suspending belief, children still want to be themselves as they navigate fantasy. The story book becomes a den or tree house where children can go inside, shut the door, and play. Introduce children to poetry by showing how you transform your poem into a children’s book by expanding and emphasizing significant events in the life story of one child.
Poems, memorable experiences, significant life events or turning points are all ways to make something out of nothing tangible. You begin re-working a concept, framework, or vision. Perhaps long ago that concept resulted in a poem.
Imagination helps you write or design books out of seemingly nothing. Make the intangible very tangible. Create your own universe by turning your abstract poems into concrete stories for children. Craft your own pop-up books or write fiction, science, or history for older children.
With illustrations in the best places of your story, you can create children’s books, audio books, or CDs with narrated stories set to music or spoken with sound effects, music, and healing tones for your imaginative tomes.
After you have adapted your poems to children’s stories, you’ll learn to launch your stories in the media, promote your stories, and market your stories. You’ll need to find free publicity. Here is how to do it and how to start with the basics. Start with a collection of your poetry. Select one poem that you will expand to make a book for children. Page length varies with age—about 22 pages for children aged 0-4; 32 pages for children aged four to eight, or 64 pages in length for children aged nine to 12. Page length refers to the book when published. Teen or young adult novels run about 35,000 to 40,000 words.
Design your own book cover. Scan it and turn it into a digital photo with a resolution of 300 dpi saved as a .tiff file. That way you can email it or upload it to a publisher’s browser or save it on a CD. Put your story into print using publishers of your choice, including print-on-demand publishers. Narrate your stories on tape, save to your computer, and transfer to a CD or DVD. Include in your multimedia presentation illustrations or photography, video clips, healing music, and text. Let’s begin.
What Poetry Will You Choose To Turn into Children’s Books Emphasizing Healthy Foods?
Take your poetry collection suitable for the age group you choose from preschool to young adult and teenage readers and match it with a proverb so you can begin to adapt and expand your poem into a story. For an example, take the concept of making something out of nothing. All over the world there are folk tales about making something from nothing. The theme begins with a creator making a universe or a world out of nothing. Only there is no such thing as nothing. Basics always seem to come in threes—intelligence, matter, and energy.
You can personalize intelligence, matter and energy into any triune entity from father, son and Holy Spirit to mother, daughter and nature, back to intelligence, matter, and energy. Or parallel universes, rebirth, and life force, and anything else that represents the triune concept of everything coming in sets of three in this universe.
Use any proverb you want to emphasize in your story. My favorite concept is that you can make something out of nothing. If you can make a purse out of an overcoat, so can you fashion a story from a proverb. Who made something out of nothing? One day an entity created intelligence. Intelligence created energy. And energy created matter. Then matter created parallel universes, all with different laws of physics. And on the farm, intelligence created the idea of life. And life could not be contained. So life expanded through wormholes to all the universes. And intelligence created gravity. And gravity leaked from one universe to this universe, creating a weaker force. So something always came from nothing, because at the root of nothing always is intelligence.
How do you show something can come from nothing? First, read the children’s book (ages 4 to 8) titled, Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman. Discuss the way the author unfolds the story.
The story comes from an old folktale. A boy receives a blanket from his grandfather as a baby. The boy grows attached to this blanket. Like everything else in this universe, the blanket has a life span in the sense that eventually it wears out. As the boy grows up, his grandfather takes the worn and frayed blanket, and makes it into a jacket that also becomes special to the boy. As the jacket frays with age, the grandfather makes a vest, then a tie, handkerchief, and finally a button. Note how the item grows smaller and smaller as the boy grows older. The point is when the button is no more in sight, the grandfather, a creative man, always makes something.
When there’s no material or tangible button in sight, the grandfather still can make something from what seems like nothing but actually is imagination or intelligence because the ending of the story emphasizes that you can make a story from nothing. Actually, you get the feeling at the end of the story that the reason why you can make a story from nothing is that you don’t need a piece of cloth (matter) to create something. All you need is intelligence and energy, which you have when you create a story from so-called (perceived) nothing. Your eyes deceive you, because you can create something from ‘nothing.’ You can write or voice a story.
That’s the point you need to understand when you adapt or ‘turn’ your poems into children’s stories. You need a message, a point of view, and a proverb. Then you turn your poems into a storybook for children. The poem that has a message based on a proverb or old folktale with a point-of-view or universal value is the type of story you want to write. It’s ageless, timeless, and can be used by teachers and parents for children’s activities based on your story book.
As an activity, people who work with children can have their students guess the next item that will be sewn, grown, or built from this type of a story book. When you adapt your poem to a story, go from the largest to the smallest. Children need concrete items to handle such as story strips. You can create blocks of paper cut into strips so students can put the story in order of size or time like a puzzle. Maybe you want a fresh angle on making something small out of something big—such as a story set at a recycling machine depot. Cans are crushed and fashioned into toys or utensils.
Use your imagination to recycle these universal folk tales from around the world based on proverbs or concepts of creation. You’re taking an abstract concept of creating something out of nothing and making your concept as concrete as possible by example and detail. You’re illustrating making a button out of a blanket or a purse out of a sow’s ear, or a story out of a proverb or poem. Children like concrete examples, even repetition of rhythm to make the story memorable.
Using Repetition and Rhythm in Children’s Books for Ages 0-4 and Ages 4-8.
Children’s books read by parents or preschool teachers such as bed-time story books emphasize illustration, rhythm, repetition and cadence. The picture is large and takes up most of the page. Text consists of one or two lines in large print at the bottom third or quarter of the page. The child looks at the picture while the adult reads the story.
Note that if you write a similar story for children ages four to eight, the words would take up to a paragraph per page. Text comes after the illustration and uses two-thirds of the page.
Look at text examples of picture pre-school books designed for children age four to eight to read. Adults would be reading to four-and-five year olds as children begin to read as early as kindergarten. By the first grade, these types of books can be used for interaction as the child reads some words and the adult helps the child sound out the words in relation to familiar illustrations.
The child soon associates the pictures with the large print words. Illustrations dominate the page, taking up two-thirds of each page or are placed on a two-page spread. Text consists of one or two sentences for younger children up to age four and two sentences to a short paragraph for children up to age eight.
Words are in the vocabulary usually used by teachers and publishers of children’s books with mostly familiar words used. New words have a rhythmic sound or beat. Repetition of rhythm and action are used throughout the story book. In a nonfiction book, questions are asked and answered in large print, two-sentence paragraphs. Illustrations take up one-third to half the page in nonfiction, informational books for children aged four to eight.
When writing fiction for children or descriptive nonfiction, use rhyme and repetition or beat, rhythm and repetition so that each sentence has the same number of syllables or beat. As this type of writing is used so frequently in poetry, using your poems as an inspiration or source for children’s story books keeps you aware of the beat, rhythm, or optional rhyme.
Use these children’s stories that describe a familiar site to inspire you to write your own stories or adapt your poems to the reading level of young children by becoming aware of how well the rhythm of poems or the beat, such as hexameter, works in children’s books, especially for the age four to eight set. Also, I’ve included some stories for 0 to age 4 children to be read by an adult.
When adapting your poems to books for children age 0 to 4, use texture, tone, and mood. The texture of the pages should be three-dimensional. Children should be able to touch and rub their fingers on the warm, fuzzy or quilted material on the cover or inside the book. Pop-up books are common.
You can also learn to design your own pop-up books by learning paper folding. Courses in adult education sometimes offer a course in hand-crafted gift book making. Using terry cloth or stuffed animals on the cover or pop-ups inside the book help to hold the attention of a child of preschool age as the adult reads the words.
Children feel and touch the texture, look at the illustrations and begin to associate the written word with the pictures. Storyline runs about one or two sentences per page for books published for children under age five. In books for children aged four to eight, text runs about a paragraph per page.
Keep paragraphs short and sentences very short—less than 10 words per sentence. Paragraphs consist of two sentences or three very short sentences that fit on the page under a large illustration that takes up at least two-thirds of the page. Text usually takes up the bottom quarter of the page with about an inch of space left under the text. These, usually hard-cover books for children aged four to eight run about 32 published pages in length. If you print your own books, be sure the cover is sturdy and waterproof.
Blank pages with textures or pop-ups, plus a hard cover increase the size and look of the book, which may be large in size, often 9 by 12 inches. The cover may have texture to touch such as a terry cloth animal or face, or may be smooth, waterproof, and colorful to hold attention. If you publish your own children’s books, don’t put a tiny illustration at the top and a whole page of text in the middle.
You’ll find that distributors and bookstores won’t stock children’s books that have too much text. You can’t use the excuse that your book is meant to be read by adults. Books are for children to look at. And young children’s brains are hard-wired to look at large pictures and one or two sentences of text.
Children in the middle grades of elementary school enjoy books with two sentences to a paragraph of text at the bottom of the page. If the child is an avid reader at age eight, the child will gravitate toward large print books with illustrations and an impelling story line, including adventure and historic themes.
For older children, readers want to become engrossed in the story and characters that drive the story. Note the popularity Harry Potter and Goosebumps series. The storyline engrosses the reader and is back up with high media coverage and publicity reaching the circles where children are present and paying attention.
The artist has free reign to illustrate the book so that the picture describes the one-sentence text. For example in the left hand column, we see the number one. This refers to page one. The left hand, larger column contains the one-sentence of text.
The artist then knows to place the illustration for the first page above the line of text, and the publisher’s book designer knows how many pages will be in the book. In some books, a publisher may ask for one sentence or one paragraph on each page, whereas another publisher may place two paragraphs on one page. Under each page of illustration one or two lines of text may be placed.
Blank pages may be inserted by the publisher to fill out the rest of the book and include a title page with the publisher’s information. Keep the book pages containing text and illustration an even 16 to 32 pages for children aged up to four. For readers aged four to eight, use the 32 published pages format. For children ages 9-12, the 32 page format may increase to 64 pages. Each publisher may be different in the number of pages specified as how many pages to insert text on, with instructions to the artist. Sometimes an illustration spreads across two pages.
The artist may increase the size of the book. The book designer may insert more pages for publisher’s address or the title page. If you’re publishing your own book, allow pages for the title, name and address of publisher with ISBN and/or Library of Congress number, and any illustration or textures inserted in the book. Some books may come with a CD pouch on the back inside cover of the book. Use this only if you’re including an interactive, multimedia CD or DVD with your children’s book.
If you publish your own book, obtain an ISBN and EAN Barcode. International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a number issued by the R.R. Bowker Agency that is used to classify and track a given title. The majority of bookstore chains, wholesalers, and distributors track titles solely with the 10-digit ISBN. Place the ISBN on the publications page of your book. Put the EAN Barcode on your book’s back cover. For further information on obtaining an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), see the ISBN website.
In this chapter’s story samples, observe the format of how the book pages are numbered when submitting to a publisher or printer. In one column, you see the page number. Each page contains only one sentence of text. The rest of the page instructs the artist and publisher to insert a colorful illustration on the particular page numbered in the left-hand column.
Two tabs are skipped and the sentence of text is placed in the right hand, larger column. In the story below, the text part of the book submitted by the writer for publication takes only 30 pages for the rhythmic, short text.
The first two pages are left blank for the artist and publisher’s input, totaling 32 pages for the book. You have 30 pages of actual story writing or adapting your poem, plus two pages left for publisher’s information. Page one is labeled ‘cover’ and page 2 is left blank. Page 3 begins the story or poem’s actual words. Page 3 repeats the book title and contains the sentence, “You have two eyes.” Starting with page 4, the alphabet is introduced and follows through A to Z. The book uses non-rhyming, but rhythmic text with a steady beat that can be set to music if the content were put on a multimedia CD. I adapted the words that run in alphabetical order to a children’s book format from one of my free-form poems written back in 1959.
Your own stories may be written in the form of a book or adapted to musical narration and put on a CD for interactive use as learning materials or for listening. With added video clips, a DVD may be produced. Illustration on a DVD would become animation. You’d team up with an animation cartoonist or animator, and your book format would be adapted to animation script format.
See this book’s chapter 3 on writing animation scripts with animation script sample. Use branding techniques on your poems. See chapter 2 on branding and creativity. I give poetry a mascot, the cat because poems have at least nine lives. Your poems can be adapted to at least nine formats in order to make them salable and competitive in the publishing world. You also can check out the YouTube video, How to write children's books.
A poem has at least nine lives—
1. Text-formatted published children’s book or pop-up book (as you see below)
2. Cartoon-style animation on DVD
3. Graphic novel as in a comic book
4. Puppet theater, narration with music on a CD or read as an audio book
5. Recited publicly in a theater, auditorium or club as poetry or monologue
6. Toy, such as stuffed animal, doll, house, robot, or action figure
7. Computer or Video action game
8. Song lyrics set to music, MTVs, musical skits, rap, and advertising jingles.
9. Learning materials and interactive multimedia for school subjects such as science or even infomercials played at events, expos, trade shows, product demonstrations in department stores, and broadcasted at conventions, video-streamed online with avatars (robotic personalities online), or podcasted on the Web as MP3 files or syndicated internationally online as feel-good poems or humor on RSS feeds.