Kate Coombs

How to Become a Children's Book Writer

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Books and Web Sites for Writers


These books or sites offer general guidance.
  • Children's Writers' and Illustrators' Market from Writer's Digest Books, published annually; includes good articles from people working in the field
  • On Writing Books for Children, by Jenny Wagner
  • www.scbwi.org—Web site of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the association to join for training and networking in the field
  • www.underdown.org and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, by Harold Underdown—wonderful info and advice!
  • The Way to Write for Children, by Joan Aiken
  • Writer's and Illustrator's Guide to Children's Book Publishers and Agents, by Ellen R. Shapiro

These books provide glimpses into the minds of various children's book writers, many of them award winners.
  • The ABCs of Writing for Children, ed. Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
  • Dear Mem Fox, I Have Read All Your Books Even the Pathetic Ones, by Mem Fox
  • Dreams and Wishes, by Susan Cooper
  • Meet the Authors and Illustrators, volumes I and II, by Deborah Kovacs and James Preller
  • Origins of Story: On Writing for Children, ed. Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire
  • The Spying Heart, by Katherine Paterson
  • Take Joy, by Jane Yolen
  • Telling Time, by Nancy Willard
  • Worlds of Childhood, ed. William Zinsser

These books will help you understand illustration—a good thing to know even if you just plan to write.
  • Bill Peet: An Autobiography (and Caldecott Honor book!)
  • Children's Book Illustration and Design, volumes I and II, ed. Julie Cummings
  • In Flight with David McPhail: A Creative Autobiography
  • Meet the Authors and Illustrators, volumes I and II, by Deborah Kovacs and James Preller
  • Picture This: How Pictures Work, by Molly Bang
  • Talking with Artists, volumes I-III, ed. Pat Cummings
  • Wings of an Artist: Children's Book Illustrators Talk about Their Art, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  • The World of William Joyce Scrapbook, text and art by William Joyce, photos by Philip Gould (you'll wish you could go to his house on Halloween)
  • Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books, by Uri Shulevitz (a fantastic book!)

These books are for fantasy writers. (Wynne Jones's book will make you laugh, but it will also slap the clichés in your head silly!)
  • Touch Magic, by Jane Yolen
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Wand in the Wood: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy, ed. Leonard S. Marcus

These books for teens or grown-ups are about writing and the creative life.
  • The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron
  • Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
  • If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland
  • Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

Here's where I wax all hero-worshippy... If you want to feel like your writing, or most people's writing, is mundane and lifeless, read Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard's books. Her autobiography, An American Childhood, still knocks my socks and sneakers right off!
  • The Writing Life, Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek, and An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard




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