Thursday, June 10, 2021

Week Two—Week of Why

Hello fellow Creatives! Welcome to Week Two of our ten-week Picture Book Challenge.  

Remember, as far as rules go, we’re keeping it simple:

1. Word count: 300-500 words.

2. Write only what the illustrator can’t illustrate. Allow room for their art (or yours if you’re illustrating your own stories) to bloom too.

3. Be kid friendly. Review Week 1 for a reminder of what this means.

How’d last week go? Were you able to cultivate some wonder? To tap into your strong emotions? Did this help you create 300-500 words of a story with a strong character, or set of characters, who will empower young readers?

I had a problem with a vacuum. Cue strong emotions. Rather than acting out on my frustrations while trying to wrap my brain around the problem, I tried doing this cultivating wonder thing. I got down on the floor, squiggled around to see the situation from a different angle. Tried wrapping my imagination around the problem instead, and vwalla! My 488-count vacuum story was born.

Week Two we want to continue doing this, but with a little more focus on the WHY of it all.

This week we make a list—an ongoing list, if you like, it doesn’t have to only be this week—of our favorite picture books. Then we figure out why they are our favorites.

So, first, make a list of at least ten of your favorite picture books. Read them, if you can, and then read them again. Read them to others, especially kids, to observe their reactions too. Where do they laugh? Is it the same as you?

If you don’t own all your favorite books, or they aren’t available at your library, YouTube usually has a number of people who read picture books for a virtual storytime experience [example below: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka...so, so good]. See if you can find what you’re looking for there.

After you’ve gone through your favorite books multiple times, make notes of your favorite things in each of the stories. Things you like, things you savor deeply, but also things you wish the author and/or illustrator did better.

Your notes are going to reveal similarities of your specific preferences across these stories. This is how you begin understanding your why’s. Do you always love a strong female character? A diverse cast of characters, whether the author uses humans or anthropomorphic animals? Do you appreciate great uses of metaphor? Witty twists on fairytales? Maybe you love it when the rhyme is spot on, or maybe you don’t like rhyme at all.

These similarities are your golden stars. Sticker them, and make sure you put at least some of those golden stars in your own story you write this week.

Just 300 words. No problem, right? Write. 

Gold star stickers for everyone this week! 

Go, write, win!



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