Children’s Picture Book Ideas
If you’re like a lot of writers (especially starting out) coming up with ideas for your picture book is going to leave you scratching your head, staring at a blinking cursor, and wondering if you’ve got what it take to be an author.
Surely if you’re an author you’re going to have any number of things come to mind on a regular basis, right? If only it was that easy. You’re going to find that being creative can elude you when you want it the most. And coming up with children’s picture book ideas is one of those times.
You’re going to find out that the more you want them to come flooding to your mind, the more they don’t want to be found. And the more frustrated you get, the less chance you’ll have of them coming to you.
Because of that I’ve put together a 6 tip blog post that you can use not only to come up ideas, but also something you can use to trigger ideas of your own.
Children’s Picture Book Ideas – How To Brainstorm Book Ideas
1 – Mash Up Ideas – This is a fun way of coming up with story line ideas. Simply pick two story book ideas and combine them together.
What about combining the ‘Three Little Pigs’ and ‘The Gingerbread Man’?
What if they all lived in the same town and not only were the Three Little Pigs trying to stay alive, but what if they had to team up with the Gingerbread Man to overcome the wolf?
What if ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ were combined?
What if little Red Riding Hood had the cure to waking Sleeping Beauty, but the wolf was on a mission from the witch to make sure she never made it to Sleeping Beauty’s bed side?
Of course you don’t have to stick to the classic stories, you can use some of the recent popular story lines too. What would the ‘Gruffalo’ and ‘Aliens Love Underpants’ look like if they were combined together.
Or what about the favourite books you had growing up? Could you combine any of your favourites to make something totally unique?
2 – Look Around You – Wherever you are, look up right now and pick an object that’s in your line of sight. Could you write a story about that object?
As I’m writing this I’m sitting in the car park outside McDonald’s waiting for my wife and kids to come out. Everywhere I look there are people going to stores and leaving their cars behind them.
Could I write a story about a car that hates being left behind?
Or what cars say to each other while they’re left alone?
Or what about a toy that was lost on the way to a restaurant or left behind by accident?
Or what if something happened in the factory where the Happy Meal toys were made and my child brought it home with them?
While not all of the ideas you come up with will be gold, this is a great way of getting your creative juices going and seeing the world around you in a different way.
3 – Kids Cartoons – An easy way to come up with ideas for your children’s picture book is to use stories that are already written for kids – cartoons. If you’re a little rusty with what kids are into right now, an hour on Netflix with a pen and paper will give you lots of ideas.
When you’re looking at cartoons for ideas, focus on the story lines and not the characters. The characters are probably copyrighted, so you don’t want to get in hot water for using them but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the story line.
Take for example, an episode from Sponge Bob. In it he and Patrick are playing a game of hide and seek. All through the episode Sponge Bob searches the town looking for Patrick but never considers looking in Patrick’s home, because that would be too obvious. And of course that’s where Patrick is.
Could you take Sponge Bob and Patrick out of that story line and put your characters in it? How about a child and a teddy bear, where the child searches everywhere but his bed for the lost bear?
Again the list of ideas are endless.
4 – Using Movies – Like using cartoons for ideas, what about movie story lines for your picture book? Of course, unlike the cartoon story line idea, you will need to clean some up and tone down the action and drama for a smaller audience.
Here’s a few examples….
The Girl On The Train – Rather than a woman witnessing a crime, what about a child on the school bus?
Jack Reacher – Rather than the movie story line that featured Tom Cruise, what about a child friendly version where someone helps kids in trouble.
Although both of the above come from books, you can do the same with standalone movies too.
Elf – Rather than the elf/Dad story line, how about taking the bones of it and using it somewhere else. What if a rabbit found out he was a direct descendant of the Easter bunny and was called upon to step in one Easter?
The Avengers – What characters could you team up and give a mission to? How about a team made up of Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Tom Thumb, and The Pied Piper? Could that be the making of your legendary avengers? What if they all got superpowers to do their mission?
With a little ‘what if’ thinking and using a story line from a movie you could have the next best selling picture book on your hands?
5 – Your Childhood – All our childhoods are littered with mistakes we made, funny things we did and said, and strange stories that we thought were true.
- the weird neighbour that never threw your ball back over the fence.
- the food’s you thought were made of one thing only to find out that they were made of something else. (either good/or gross).
- how you nose would fall off if you kept picking it.
- the square eyes watching TV was going to give you.
- the awful toys your grandmother bought you for your birthday and Christmas.
- that war medal that you got off your grandfather.
- the cat of yours that went away for days at a time and no one knew where.
Whatever your childhood was like, I’m sure you’ve got a huge stash of these childhood stories that you could use for your next picture book.
6 – What If Idea Generator – If you used this idea alone, you’d have more than enough ideas to write about. If you’ve never tried the what if idea, it’s works by looking at sometime ordinary that we all take for granted and saying ‘What if?”
- What if my dog could speak to me, what would he say?
- What if I hitched a ride on Santa’s sleigh when he was heading home to the North Pole?
- What if I got locked in at a toy store, or candy factory?
- What if the Christmas decorations on my tree came alive on Christmas eve?
- What if I found out that my best friend was an alien or robot?
- What if I found a magic wallet that never ran out of money?
- What if next door neighbor was a superhero?
- What if my grandfather was a top secret spy?
- What if all the bees were disappearing because an evil scientist was using them in a cunning plan to take over the world?
- What if a monkey from the zoo followed me home?
As you can see the ‘what if’ is a fun way of coming up with ideas. And if you’re having problems coming up with ideas, go to your target market and ask them. Kids have a great imagination and once you give them the what if beginning, you’ll be inundated with lots of great story line ideas.
And there you have it, six easy ways to come up with children’s picture book story ideas. Of course some may work better than others, but I’m sure after reading the list above you’ve already got something in mind to write about.
But remember, if you’re finding it hard to come up with a children’s picture book ideas step away from your keyboard. As I said already, pushing yourself will never give you the results you’re looking for. Take a walk, or go do some house work instead and let your subconscious work on the problem for you.
Just make sure that you carry a small pad and pen with you at all times for when that idea comes to you. 🙂
By the way if you’d like to know more about creating and publishing children’s picture book, plus the mistakes most authors make when creating them, you’ll learn a lot here.