Picture Books vs Early Readers and Chapter Books

Being a writer has many conflicting theories. If you do any research on Picture Books you will run into many articles that say publishers don’t like talking animals. And yet when you see what picture books are out there, the majority of the most popular ones are with talking animals.

Research will also tell you that publishers aren’t publishing many picture books anymore because they are on their way out. And yet once again, the majority of the books on the shelves for small children are picture books. And they aren’t old picture books, they are newly released.

I decided that although my first love is writing picture books, I needed to branch out and learn to write early readers and chapter books. However, when I went to the bookstore to purchase a few for research purposes, there were very few books in either of those categories. And they seemed to all be series books. Don’t children read anymore or has this world turned into nothing but electronic gadgets?

Is the reason publishers aren’t publishing books for small children because parents don’t seem to have time to read to their kids anymore?  Instead they send them off to the TV room to watch a movie? Or to play video games and computer games?

It sure is a struggle to stay motivated in the writing world. I just received a rejection from a story I sent into a magazine 4 months ago! But to top that off, I went into my spreadsheet where I keep track of things I’m waiting to hear back from and had to not only gray that story out as a rejection but had to pink out another 5 stories. PINK OUT!! Now to everyone else, that color pink means nothing to you but I color code submissions, rejections, and dead in the water stories (you know, the ones where the publisher makes you suffer and just wait until their time frame has passed). And guess which one of those is pink. You guessed it. The sweat and wait for nothing submissions. At least with rejections you know they received your submission and now it’s time to move on. The dead in the water ones you aren’t even allowed to find out if they received it at all. Those are no fun.

Can anyone tell that I am a bit discouraged today? It just really takes a lot of self-confidence, endurance, patience, stubbornness, and love of writing to keep on fighting! Good thing I love it!

Okay, back to what my original post was really supposed to be about!

What is your take on picture books versus early readers and chapter books? Do you think one or the other is easier to write or get published in?


Special announcement: Mark your calendars for August 15 so you can check out Courtney Rene’s interview with me ( about my children’s picture book The Pea In Peanut Butter. And make sure you take the test at the end of the interview for your chance to win a free autographed copy or a free doggy bag!


  1. So sorry you're having a tough day : (

    Writing PB's, early readers, and Chapter books is what I do best! I don't find one any easier to write than another. As far as getting one published over another, I have no clue! I'll let you know when I get a little more published : ) I do know what you mean about the bookstore. I find there are so few books on the shelf for early readers and chapter books. Maybe because most of these books get read in school? There are a lot at the library.

  2. I’m not a writer (I sell children’s books) so can’t offer any sensible advice but what I can do is tell you I enjoyed your post and am now following your blog.

  3. Nicole, I'm glad you enjoyed my post!

    Katie, Good point about maybe the early readers & chapter books aren't a big item at the bookstore because the schools are reading them. Hadn't thought of that.

    Barbara, I'm glad you enjoyed my post too and thanks so much for following me. I will do the same for you. Happy blogging!

  4. Lovely post. I really enjoyed it!

  5. Hi Allyn, sorry to hear about the rough day. Hope you're feeling better. =) (Chocolate cake and coffee, my recommendation.)

    My two cents on your question: I don't think any category is easier to write or be published. Those three categories cater to three different age groups, so their individual demand will always be there. Whether or not bookstores bring them in is the bookstores' sales/marketing decision. (My guess is they only bring in the ultra popular ones ... hence the serialized books you found. Pity, isn't it?)

    But on the customer/reader front, they will always be needed. So I'm guessing that publishers will always need them, too. (Not all publishers, not most publishers even ... but there will be one or two.)

    So all's not lost, I suppose? =)

    Cheers, and happy writing!

  6. Allyn, my daughter is four and we read picture books, easy readers (which she can mostly read on her own), and some chapter books. We actually just finished a middle grade novel together. It was 129 pages and we read a little each night for about a week and a half. She loved it. I don't know if this is much help to you, but it shows how one child can be so diverse. Kids like to read up and feel bigger than they are. My daughter loves that she read her first novel. But she also loves picture books still.

    I say, you have to write what you love. Don't try to fit the market because it changes so much that you'll drive yourself crazy.

  7. Thanks, Cat, glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Claudine,
    Chocolate and coffee almost always works, you're right! But actually my day turned out pretty good as 1 hour after I posted this, I got an acceptance from SFC. Woo hoo!
    You are probably spot on about bookstores only carrying the most popular books and my dream is to write one of those most popular books! But it gets depressing looking at the odds, however it does kinda make me work even harder. And when I get one of those most popular books on those shelves... I'm going to feel sooooooooooo good! Thanks for your comment.

  9. Kelly,
    Wow, your daughter is already taking after her mommy and becoming a great reader! That is awesome. And thanks for the reminder that I need to write what I love because it is so true that the market will always be changing.

  10. As a writer, I feel for you with the pinks. Gracious I do. I am not sure which is harder for me, as I have trouble with a good plot in picture books, but my writing is too "old" for some of the early readers and chapters. I think you just have to keep pushing and chipping away until you are good or sellable for any age group you WANT to be. Me I am sticking with YA for now. Maybe I will change that in the future. You never know right?