Book Picks for Author/Illustrator Wannabes

Instructional Books for Aspiring Picture Book Author/Illustrators

picture book author illustrator

I have always loved picture books and almost majored in illustration at RI School of Design but during my freshman year there I was exposed to and fascinated by 3D design and decided to try Industrial Design instead. I have been happen with my choice but still love illustration and never stopped picking up picture books. When my daughter was born in 2005 I started building a library for her, reading to her, and adding to my love for picture books with some parental insight. This was around the time I first thought about writing too. I didn’t start writing, I was a little too spent from mothering and working but I did starting reading. There are many instructional books for writing and illustrating children’s books and they mostly all say the same thing in slightly different ways. I do have a some favorites and those I would like to share. I have still yet to publish a picture book so I can’t vouch for there success rate but I can say these have risen to the top for me in terms of content for both the creative and business aspects of picture books.

First up is a wonderful children’s book writing and illustrating course in a book. It’s called Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books for Publication by Berthe Amos’s and Eric Suben and it is full of practical info and fun, constructive exercises for you to work on when convenient for you. You can take much less convenient continuing ed classes or online courses on writing and illustrating children’s books for hundreds of dollars or buy this book for ten. So today I have saved you hundreds of dollars minus ten. You’re welcome.

Next is Writing With Pictures by Uri Schulevitz. This book taught me all I know about the pictures’s role in picture book storytelling. Illustrations tell part of the story not just support it. If you do not, or even if you do have an art background, this book is also an excellent primer on drawing, design, style, and the technical aspects of book printing. Uri Schulevitz is a Caldecott Medal winning illustrator for The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship as told by Arthur Ransome and author/illustrator of Snow which is a Caldecott Honors book.

I also really like anything and everything and by Leonard Marcus but since I am giving you so much reading already I picked A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and their Paths to the Caldecott Medal. This book is for kids but it is perfectly appropriate for grown ups too. The artists in the book share there process from early sketches, thinking, interesting anecdotes process for the creation of their successful award winning picture books. wanting more Leonard Marcus? There is also Dear Genius, Golden Legacy, and his latest Show Me a Story.

My last pick is called A Family of Readers by Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano, editors of The Hornbook Magazine. Hornbook is a fantastic magazine that reviews and discusses children’s books and this book is like a “best of” that magazine. In it are a series of essays about children’s books by age and subject geared to people looking for guidance and the desire to instill a love for books in kids. These people know what is good and WHY from lots of experience.

Maybe someday soon I will be able to update this post and validate my picks with publishing success. In the meantime please share your favorite instructional books for aspiring writers and/or illustrators!


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


    • I wonder where I would be if I had too. Although I met my husband at a work party at a job I wouldn’t have had if I became an illustrator.
      You can learn almost anything form books and practice and community.

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