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How does one design a children's book?


Question

My dad one day decided to write a children's book, and my wife illustrated it. However, we've had some difficulties in putting the illustrations into a book format. What kinds of things should one consider when designing the layout for a children's book?

2011/02/03
1
7
2/3/2011 6:03:00 AM

Accepted Answer

Speaking from experience of reading books to my three sons, which are now five years and below.

I must add that this may apply mostly to younger kids and elder toddlers. However, I still think the below holds true for nearby ages as well, in many cases.

Likewise, I'm also considering making children's books, and these are the main things I would consider (and avoid more often than not, except the last paragraph):

Text/images unsynchronization

If it's not intended as a concept of its own – try avoiding cases where text and images don't sync:

For example, you turn a page and the new page begins with a fair amount of text that still goes on about something that happened on the previous page. This introduces confusion since the kid(s) may be all stoked about the things they see on this new page, whereas you (the reader) is supposed to keep reading about 'the past' (as the kids perceive it).

Multiple scenes on same spread

(This probably applies more strictly to ages below 3–4 years.)

Another very delicate consideration (that should often if not always, I'd say, be avoided for younger audiences) is when you introduce two different 'scenes' on a single spread (one on verso and one on the recto side).

With scenes, I mean different narrative states which are significant enough to warrant small but somehow distinctive transitions in the story.

This introduces a few problems. One being that it can be hard for the child to relate what it's looking at, with what you're reading, when the images signals different things. Another problem being that it imposes a certain itch (sometimes even requirement) to point on each element that illustrates what you're reading about. In other words, your finger has to do the 'synching' I was talking about previously. It's often prone to confusion.

Coil binding

(Yes, this is almost entirely targeted towards young childrens books.)

Coil bound, or spiral bound books add a fantastic feature that most childrens books lack – the ability to really turn a page around, making it easier to hold in one hand, and help remedy the caveats I mentioned above. It also adds favorably to the book's longevity, I think.

In the same vein, laminated or stiff, coated paper will do wonders to a book's sturdyness and lifetime. This of course involves taking these physical attributes into account in early design stages.

2014/10/21
5
10/21/2014 7:01:00 AM