The Art and Heart of Writing Big Books for Preschoolers: A Quick Guide

The Art and Heart of Writing Big Books for Preschoolers: A Quick Guide
8 min read
31 October 2023

Have you ever picked up a gorgeously illustrated, jumbo-sized book and see the twinkling eyes of preschoolers wide with wonder, eagerly awaiting each page turn? Well, that's the magic of big books for preschool. They're more than just large-print tales; they’re gateways to realms of imagination, carefully tailored for tiny hands and eager minds. 

If you're looking to create one of these literary treasures, you're in for a delightful journey. Dive into our guide packed with dos, don’ts, and a sprinkle of fairy dust. Let’s start our storytelling adventure, shall we?

Understand Your Audience: The Curious Preschooler Mind

Preschoolers are bundles of joy and curiosity. Think about it: they're in a world where almost everything is new and interesting. Every puddle is a lake to jump over, every stick is a magical wand. When you're crafting big books for preschool, you want to hop into that mindset. You want to see the world with the same sense of awe and wonder.

So, where to start? Picture a simple thing like a rainbow. To you, it might be a lovely sight, but to a preschooler, it's a mystery, a work of art, and maybe even a bridge to a magical land! Now imagine using such a rainbow as a gateway to a whimsical world in your story. What lives at the end of it? Leprechauns? Fairies? The ideas are endless.

And let's not forget about the creatures or characters that inhabit your story. Animals, fantastical creatures, and even everyday heroes like firefighters or teachers can come to life with vivid personalities. Whether it's a talking turtle or a brave little girl, make sure your characters are relatable, full of life, and capable of capturing those young hearts.

Vivid Illustrations: Painting Worlds with Colors

Oh, the power of pictures. You could have the most enchanting tale ever told, but if it’s paired with lackluster illustrations, it might fall flat. Remember, for kids, pictures aren’t just decorations. They’re the windows into the world you’ve created. They make the story tangible, relatable, and oh-so-magical. 

Picture this: A page describing a forest filled with fairies. Now add twinkling lights, glowing mushrooms, and iridescent wings to the illustration. Instantly, the forest isn't just 'a forest' anymore; it's a fairy wonderland that kids would give anything to visit. It's that kind of magical thinking that takes your big book from good to "read it again"

And here's something fun: think about adding little details that aren’t mentioned in the text but add depth to the story. A hidden caterpillar on each page or a recurring background character can turn reading into a fun 'spot-the-detail' game. Kids love it, and it keeps them engaged from start to finish. Trust me, they'll flip through the pages over and over just to point out these hidden gems.

Language & Vocabulary: Simple, Sweet, and to the Point

When it comes to the language of children’s big books, simpler is usually better. We're talking easy-to-understand words, short sentences, and lots of action verbs. Make the apple 'tumble' instead of 'fall.' Let the dog 'dash' instead of 'run.' Simple tweaks can make your story a lot more dynamic and engaging.

Rhyming? Absolutely, yes. Rhymes are like the catchy chorus of a song; they stick in your head and make you want to read (or sing) along. "The sun is out, let’s give it a shout. It’s time to play, hip, hip, hooray" See? Instantly engaging and super memorable.

But wait, there’s more. Repetition is another excellent tool for your storytelling toolbox. It's not just filler; it’s a clever way to build suspense and help young readers predict what's coming next. Imagine a story where a little boy goes fishing. 

Each time he casts his line, uses a repetitive phrase like, "Down, down, down went the hook." The kids will eagerly anticipate what happens next and feel super smart when they guess it right.

Themes and Morals: Lessons Wrapped in Fun

Remember the stories you heard as a child? The ones with sneaky foxes, brave lions, and magical lands? They weren’t just tales. They were life lessons wrapped in vibrant tales, teaching us about courage, friendship, honesty, and so much more. Your big book should aim to do just the same.

Instead of overtly stating, "Lying is bad," spin a tale around a little mouse who tells a fib and then faces the music. Or, if you want to touch upon themes of friendship and kindness, weave a narrative around animals who help each other in times of trouble. Think about “The Lion and the Mouse” and the profound lesson it imparts without being preachy.

But here's the cherry on top: make it relatable. Instead of grand events, focus on everyday situations. Maybe it's about waiting in line and learning patience or sharing toys during playtime. When kids see scenarios they face in real life, they connect more deeply and understand the message better.

Interaction and Engagement: Making Reading a Two-way Street

Kids are naturally interactive. They don’t just want to listen; they want to participate, comment, ask, and sometimes even argue! So why should your big book be any different? Turn the passive act of reading into an interactive session filled with excitement.

Imagine a scene where a character is deciding what to wear. Why not make it a choice? Ask the readers, "Should she wear the red hat or the blue one?" or "Which path should he take: the sunny meadow or the mysterious forest?" Kids get to decide, and in doing so, they become a part of the story.

Interactive elements like flaps, pop-ups, and touch-and-feel textures are also golden. Consider a story about a jungle adventure. Wouldn't it be thrilling if kids could lift a flap to discover a hidden animal or feel the rough texture of a tree bark? It’s these elements that turn reading into a multi-sensory journey. For more details visit us at https://www.bbbg.org/.

Rhythm and Flow: The Musicality of Words

The rhythm of a story is its heartbeat. It's what keeps kids hooked and makes them sway, tap, and groove. Every word, and every sentence should flow like a song, carrying readers smoothly from one page to the next.

Have you ever played with a bouncy ball? The way it goes up and down, up and down, is a lot like how rhythmic stories feel. Take a leaf, a raindrop, or a butterfly. Describe its journey. Does it flutter, float, or dance? The choice of words can give your story a unique rhythm that kids will love.

But remember, it's not just about rhyming; it's about the feel. You could rhyme 'cat' with 'hat' or 'bat,' but if it doesn't flow or feel right in the context of the story, it won't resonate. Try reading your story aloud. Tap your foot, and clap your hands. If it makes you move, you’re on the right track.

In Conclusion: Crafting a Tale that Shines

Creating big books for preschool isn’t just about telling a story; it’s about kindling imaginations, igniting curiosity, and weaving dreams. By understanding your audience, opting for vivid imagery, choosing simple language, and incorporating rhythm and engagement, you'll be crafting tales that not only captivate but also educate and inspire. 

So, grab your pen (or keyboard), let your imagination soar, and embark on the magical journey of creating stories that resonate with every turn of the page. 

Read More:

English Language Learners and the Search for Knowledge

Reading Aloud to Create a Language Rich Environment

Teacher questioning and the emergent bilingual response connection

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