Why are picture books, written (mostly) for kids, treasured by so many grown-ups?
Because they are spectacular.
I still have a copy of The Biggest Sandwich Ever by Rita Golden Gelman.
It’s a rhyming picture book from 1980 about a boy and girl having a picnic, when a man with a pot comes along.
The adventure that unfolds creates the biggest sandwich ever.
Simple yet memorable.
These books excite us with a combination of character, plot, universal themes, heartwarming endings and the 3Rs – rhyme, rhythm and repetition.
Many feature wonderful illustrations helping us to visualise the characters and their actions.
Some have just a couple of words per page.
But they are cleverly devised and carefully edited to convey tone of voice and emotion.
And the pictures and words have been cleverly chosen to work together.
Each element plays a specific role – to imply meaning or action – but together the magic happens.
What do kids’ books teach us?
Kids’ books show us that every word counts.
The Book With No Pictures by B.J.Novak is just that – a book with words only.
There are no visual cues for readers to draw out the meaning.
Instead, typesetting performs a key role using different colours and font sizes.
Each word and every sentence works hard to keep the story moving and engage the reader.
So take inspiration from kids’ books.
Only use words that are necessary, especially in short-form communications, such as blogs and emails.
Business writers can adopt the same approach for long-form copy, like reports and articles.
When creating content, why use long sentences and big words when you can be concise and still get your message across?
Write as clearly as you can.
Readers want to get to the point quickly and easily, so help them by editing out superfluous words.
- Use simple language to help readers follow the content
- If you’re not sure if your readers will understand (e.g. with jargon) then replace longer words with shorter ones
- Make it interesting and accessible. Don’t make reading hard for your audience and encourage them to keep going.