Books about Writing and Illustrating:
Some of these books are out of print, but you may be able to find them in your library,
or through an inter-library loan system.
On writing and illustrating children's books:
Down the Rabbit Hole; Adventures an Misadventures in the Realm of Children's Literature, Selma G. Lanes, 1976. o/p
- Writing Books for Young People, James C. Giblin, 1990
- This one is good for all genres, but especially helpful if you want to write non-fiction.
- Writing Books for Children, Jane Yolen o/p
- I started with this one. Jane revised it in 1983, but it's unfortunately out of print. Still great info and beautifully written.
- Writing With Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books, Uri Shulevitz.
- First published in 1985, this one is a classic.
- How to Write and Sell Children's Picture Books, Jean Karl, 1994.
- Clear, step by step discussion about the different types of picture books and how to write and submit them, by a great, long time editor.
- The Art of Writing for Children: Skills and Techniques of the Craft, Connie Epstein, 1991.
- I haven't read this book but have heard Connie, who is an editor, speak many times. I also know it is highly recommended by my picture book writing friend, Ann Whitford Paul.
- 1997 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market: Where and How to Sell Your Fiction, Non-fiction, Illustrations, and Photos for Every Age Group, Alice Buening, Editor.
- The title says it all. A new edition comes out every year.
- How a Book is Made, by Aliki, 1987 (paperback); (library binding )
- This is a picture book for kids that explains the whole process of making a book. Often the younger ones think the author and illustrator sits there making each book by hand! This book really helps explain it.
- From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books, Kathleen T. Horning, 1997.
- This book is for parents, teachers and librarians, but Martha Weston, another writer illustrator friend, found it very helpful in sorting out the elements in the different categories of books for children, i.e.: easy readers, chapter books, etc..
A Sense of Wonder: On Reading and Writing Books for Children, Katherine Paterson, 1995.
- From Childhood to Childhood: Children's Books and Their Creators, Jean Karl, 1970. o/p
- The two books above were among the first I read on children's literature. They may be dated now, but I found them wonderful at the time.
- Gates of Excellence: On Reading and Writing for Children, Katherine Paterson
- The Spying Heart, Katherine Paterson
- I was really moved by these two books, especially the first one. They have now been combined into the one below.
Telling Time, Essays on Writing, Nancy Willard, 1993.
The Zena Sutherland Lectures 1983-1992, Edited by Betsy Hearne. o/p
- Celebrating Children's Books, Edited by Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye o/p
- Essays on creating , producing, and understanding children's books by the people who do it well.
On writing in general:
Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, Natalie Goldberg, 1990.
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg, 1986.
These two books have some fun ways to get things flowing. If I were to choose one, I'd make it Wild Mind.
- Writing the Natural Way: Using Right Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers, Dr. Gabriele Rico, 1983. ISBN: 0874772362
- Dian Curtis Regan, a fellow children's book writer, often uses exercises from the book when she visits schools.
- The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach, Edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell, 1992.
- Another book recommended by an author friend; Susan Bartoletti used these exercises with her eighth grade English students as well as in her own writing. Some really good ones!
- Writing for Story : Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by a Two-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner, by Jon Franklin, 1994
- My friend Elizabeth Partridge told me about this book. Even though Franklin is talking about non-fiction, it applies to fiction as well--helps you focus the story.
- The Writer's Journey : Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters by Christopher Vogler, 1992
- Tom Birdseye told me about this one. Vogler translates Joseph Campbell's wonderful work on myth into language that can be used by anyone writing stories--mythological or not. It's the basis of all story.
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott, 1994.
- Funny and enlightening. I carry some special quotes from this one in my pocket calendar.
- If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence, and Spirit, Brenda Ueland.
- First published in 1938, but I didn't guess that the first time I read it.
- On Writer's Block, by Victoria Nelson, 1993
- Deborah Brodie, editor at Roaring Brooks Press, highly recommended this book--even if you aren't blocked.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence by Betty Edwards, 1989
- The of Zen Seeing : Seeing Drawing As Meditation by Frederick Franck, 1973
Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing : Meditation in Action by Frederick Franck, 1993
Life Drawing Life : On Seeing/Drawing the Human by Frederick Franck, 1989
- Franck's books are so great for getting you to really see and draw what you are looking at, rather than what you "know" it looks like. I used to use the first one with my third graders and could they draw!! I haven't seen Life Drawing Life, but am putting it on my own wish list.
- Drawing on the Artist Within: An Inspirational and Practical Guide to Increasing Your Creative Powers by Betty Edwards, 1987
- More books that help you "see", and let go, so you can do.
- Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too by Mona Brookes, 1996,
- I got the first edition of this book back in 1986 and used it with my daughter Lassen, then seven. The lessons are great for beginners of all ages, especially if you think you can't.
- Colored Pencil Fast Techniques by Bet Borgeson, 1988. o/p
The Colored Pencil by Bet Borgeson, Edwin Borgeson (Photographer) Re/Updtd Edition 1995
Basic Colored Pencil Techniques by Bet Borgeson, 1997
- I use a lot of colored pencil and found the first book helpful. My friend Pierr Morgan recommends the second, so I figure the new one is good, too.
- The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study by Kimon Nicolaides, 1990
- Drawing With an Open Mind: Reflections from a Drawing Teacher, by Ted Seth Jacobs, Reprint Editon 1991
On freeing the creative mind:
The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron, 1992.
- The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart, Julia Cameron, 1996.
- My illustrator friend, Pierr Morgan, shared The Artist's Way with me, and then a writer friend gave me The Vein of Gold. Both are inspiring. I just wish I had the discipline to follow the suggestions for more than a couple weeks at a time!
- Learning by Heart; Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Corita Kent, 1992. o/p
- This is another of those books that inspire me to make resolutions that I only keep for a few weeks. It's out of stock at the publisher right now. They may or may not decide to reprint.