We’re proud of first-time author Judy Cobb. Her book, Shark Tooth Capital, has enjoyed great success with sales online, at local shops (including a dive shop mentioned in her book!) and, of course, at the annual “Shark Tooth Festival” in Venice, Florida, where her table always attracts a crowd.
If you’re thinking of writing a children’s book, the best time to do that is now! Maybe you have a story in mind, but many people struggle as beginner fiction writers. Did you know that there is a much larger market for nonfiction than for fiction, in both adult and children’s genres?
As a former teacher, Judy Cobb had a good handle on what would appeal to elementary-age children. Young readers are naturally curious about sharks. She correctly predicted that Shark Tooth Capital: Finding Fossils in Venice, Florida would capture their attention and that of their parents. Photos, original full-color illustrations and fascinating facts convey where and how to find prehistoric shark teeth in Venice, FL., and other locations. A glossary with pronunciation key is included to make this an excellent nonfiction book.
5 Steps to Choosing Your First Children’s Nonfiction Book Topic
- Look at your own interests and areas where you have insider knowledge. Did you volunteer at a sea turtle rescue program one summer? Have you trained service dogs? Are you a retired NASA scientist? Have you taught your children or grandchildren how to bake delicious cookies? You can make any topic appealing and fun once you decide on one which is exciting to you because you have the confidence and passion to write about it.
- List 8-10 “teaching opportunities” you want to share. What is important for children to learn about your topic? What could they get out of knowing these? Choose your top 4-5 to explore.
- Think of something children already understand well and use that to help convey what you want them to learn. For example, in A Look Around a Coral Reef, Tracey Dils made her book relatable to first- and second-graders by describing the reef as a kind of underwater neighborhood.
- As you make an outline and note the points to cover, write down a description of the pictures that come to mind. You’ll start discovering images that can evolve into illustrations. You must illustrate your book yourself, have an illustrator do it, or use photographs (your own or ones you have full permission to use). For a young reader’s book, the role of the illustrations cannot be emphasized enough.
- Be sure you write at the “readability level” of your target reader. Check online resources as well as with teachers, parents, and children. As you write, double-check every fact and keep a thorough list of your references and resources used. Once you have a draft of your manuscript, set it aside for at least one week and then pick it up and see what you then think about your topic.
You have a universe of possible topics for your children’s book. Types include: biographies, how-to books to teach a skill (like magic tricks), science and the environment, historical events, and sports. One more important thing to keep in mind—writing more than one is a great idea! Once you have an audience of readers who enjoyed your book, they will look for and almost automatically buy the next book. A series of books where different aspects of a topic or type are explored can be very appealing to the many children who like to “collect” every book in a series. It can be fun for you, too, because once you become a published children’s book author, you will very likely find there is another story or two you want to tell.
Take this QUIZ and see if you’re ready to write the book that is inside you.