Monday, July 18, 2011

Writing Craft: Parents in Picture Books, and WINNER!

First: the winner of TOOTER'S STINKY WISH according to RANDOM.ORG (shocking to see me use electronics like this, I know, but all those slips of paper just take too darn long to cut out) is:

*throws virtual confetti*

Congratulations, Swaty! You didn't have an email attached to your profile, so please email me (you'll find my addy right up there under my picture in the corner) so I can send you your prize. Be sure to do it soon, though - within the next two weeks at the latest - or I'll have to draw another winner.

ALSO: We hit 200 followers! WOO-HOO! I know I promised you an extra-special giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of that later this week. Probably on Friday, since I have a post planned for Wednesday, and Friday is a good day for that. But I might do shout-outs on Friday, so maybe there will be a special extra post tomorrow or Thursday. We'll have to wait and see. But it will be extra-amazing, so you don't want to miss it!

And now for today's topic: parents in picture books. Or rather, the absence of parents in picture books.*

Basically, they're usually not really there. And when they are there, they're not instrumental to the resolution of the story.

We all know that this is not the way things go in real life. We all know that moms and dads know what their kids are getting up to even before their kids do. (I can smell a plot hatching from a mile away, and I can see a lie coming before my son even opens his mouth. He thinks I'm psychic. I'm going with it.)

We all know that parents either stage things, or interfere with things, or subtly guide their kids. We all know that when we let our kids choose what to eat for breakfast, we're not really giving them real responsibility, because the choices never include things like fudge sundaes or jellybeans.

But here's the thing: the kids don't know that. 

Picture books, like all books for kids, are about giving them independence and power. If you want your picture book to be effective, if you want to connect with your child reader, it's a good idea to keep the adults out of the problem-solving process. Remember that this is the child's world we're entering, and in the child's mind, he is the ruler of his domain.

Can you think of good picture books that are examples of this? How about books that exemplify the opposite of this?

*Except in cutesy concept books about Mommy being magic or a special day with Daddy, but those books aren't the books we're talking about. There's nothing wrong with those books, but they're mostly concept books and that's not what we're tackling here today.


  1. Congrats on hitting 200 followers. How awesome!

  2. Horray, its me - just realized it so I emailed you right now. In case it lands in your spam or is otherwise missed, here is how to reach me -