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Choosing Your Story: Shelf Research Points the Way

Photo by Dean Hochman

Photo by Dean Hochman

I’ve got picture book ideas–and the sticky notes, crumpled napkins and scribbled notebooks to prove it. I’ve got manuscripts–some crappy first drafts, some overworked revisions and some that look pretty good. But which story to focus on next?

This summer, I’m gratefully participating in Mira Reisberg and Kelly Delaney‘s Children’s Book Academy course on the Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books on a Yuyi Morales scholarship. For this online course, participants choose one story to hone over five weeks. How do I go about choosing just one story?

After two rounds of Tara Lazar‘s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo), I’ve learned a few tricks that help me make these kinds of choices. One of my favorites is SHELF RESEARCH. Continue reading

The Stories We Need

#WeNeedDiverseBooks LogoToday is the last day to donate to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Indiegogo campaign (click here to contribute now), run by a powerhouse group of children’s book writers, illustrators, librarians, readers, editors and agents dedicated to promoting diversity in children’s literature. Funds raised will  be used primarily as grants for authors/illustrators bringing diverse stories to the field of children’s publishing.

I am not one of the powerhouses. But I am here to tell you why we need diverse books. I grew up straddling a strange divide between the Haves and the Have-nots, a sort of Half-Star Sneetch on the beach. When my half-star caught the sun, it looked like the real thing. I was viewed and treated as a Star-Belly Sneetch by most of those who had stars upon thars. But when I met up with the other Sneetches on the beach–the ones with no marshmallows or hotdogs–most of them also accepted me as one of their own. They didn’t see my half star, but noticed instead my deeply tanned skin, my unusual eyes, the shape of my nose and lips. Look for yourself. You’ll see it if you’re paying attention.

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