Design matters in any book, and it’s even more important when you’re talking about a children’s book. With a children’s book design, you should follow specific guidelines, but there’s still lots of room for creativity and originality. Following are some pointers for a beautiful, easy-to-read children’s book design.
Elements of Children’s Book Design
Every book has the same standard elements. Before you begin your design, consider how you’ll deal with these elements. You may change your mind later, but you should have a pretty good idea of how you want to handle these parts of the book:
- Font style and size
- Page count
- End sheets
- Front matter
- Page turns
- Back matter
If you’re not doing your own illustrations, you should also have an illustrator lined up at this point.
Children’s Book Design — Start with Research
Do you know what the current trends are for children’s book design? You don’t have to follow them exactly, but it’s a good idea to know which layouts, designs, and illustration styles are popular. You want your book to connect with today’s parents and children.
Start by visiting the children’s book section at your local library or bookstore. Find the best-selling books everyone is talking about. Also look at books that have won awards, including the Caldecott Medal, Horn Book Award, Newbery Medal, and Kate Greenaway Medal.
As you look at them, consider what you like and don’t like about the layouts, fonts, and colors of these books.
You can also study books from past decades that have remained popular today. Many of these books have become classics for both their writing and their memorable design. What is it about these books that have made them long-lasting favorites?
Get Inspired with Children’s Book Design
Use these online examples to get you started, but remember, nothing can take the place of seeing the actual books. You want to get a good sense of what they look like and feel like.
Decide on a Word Count
Most children’s books have short word counts. A picture book may have only 250 words. For older readers, the word count can go up to 1,000 words.
You’ll have to decide how you want to spread the words out over your chosen page count.
Page count is part of your overall children’s book design. How long will your children’s book be? A standard picture book is 32 pages. If you want to market and sell your book, it’s best to use a page count that’s the industry standard. This is what readers and buyers are most comfortable with. If you’re writing for older readers, you have more flexibility.
Select a Trim Size for Children’s Book Design
Children’s books come in all these formats, but the most popular and successful ones stick to standard industry sizes. In children’s book design, the standard sizes are:
- 8 x 8 square
- 8 x 10 portrait or landscape
- 5 x 5 to 10 x 10 square
Use a Storyboard
A storyboard is a planning tool that’s used to organize a movie, plan a graphic novel, and design children’s books. It’s essential for designing anything that’s heavy on images and illustrations.
What is a storyboard? It’s a rough outline of your book the way it will look once it’s printed. It shows what text is on each page, where each page turns, and where each picture will go. If some illustrations are spread over two pages, show that on the storyboard.
When you create your storyboard, you don’t need detailed illustrations. Make a mockup that features rough illustrations or notes about what the picture on that page will be. If you’re working with an illustrator, you can work on the storyboard together.
How to Create a Storyboard for Children’s Book Design
Once you’ve written your children’s book, it’s time to design a children’s book storyboard. Here are the steps:
- Go through the story carefully.
- Decide which scenes need an illustration.
- Draw a series of rectangles with each rectangle representing a page.
- As you go to each rectangle, ask yourself: What illustration will go there? What will it show? Will your book have two-page spreads?
- Once you have a good sense of your story’s movement and pictures, create a final version of your storyboard using a piece of paper to represent each page of your book. Staple the pages together to create a mockup of your book.
You can create your storyboard using a pencil and paper. This is fast and easy. It allows your creativity to flow freely.
If you prefer, however, you can use online tools to create the first draft of your storyboard. Online illustration software like Adobe and Canva have storyboard templates that make it easy to drop your notes and images directly into the mockup.
Don’t Rush the Process
Producing a storyboard is an essential step when you design children’s books. Don’t rush this process. You will probably change your mind several times, and that’s fine. This is a creative step that you should enjoy.
Be patient, have fun, and take the time you need to create a storyboard that makes your book irresistible to young readers.
Use a Template for Easy Children’s Book Design
You can find online templates that will make it easier to design children’s books. A book template will help you plan a page-by-page layout quickly. Using a template ensures you won’t forget any important elements of your book.
However, an online template should be considered a starting point for your own creative efforts. It can’t replace the storyboard. An online design will help you get organized, but it won’t give you a sense of what the finished, printed book looks like. That’s where the storyboard comes in.
You can get these templates from:
- Microsoft Word
- Adobe Spark
Create a Cover
A cover is key to good children’s book design. How will you make yours pop? This is where your research into other books will help you. Choose colors and an eye-catching image that will make a child choose your book over all the others on the shelf.
Hand-lettering is a popular choice for cover titles in children’s books. If you have an illustrator, this can be part of their work. If you’re doing the illustration, you can find guides to hand lettering online.
Include Standard Book Elements in Children’s Book Design
When you design a children’s book, your design must include these standard book elements:
- Front matter: The pages that come before the story starts are known as the front matter. In a children’s book, these opening pages typically consist of a title page and copyright page. If you have an illustrator, add their name to the title page.
- Copyright page: Create a copyright page that includes the book’s ISBN, copyright holder name, publisher, and publication date. If you’re self-publishing, the publisher will be your printing company. Include information about the copyrights, permissions, and legal disclaimers. In a children’s book, the copyright page is usually on the first left-hand page of the book.
- Full-bleed pages: These are standard in most children’s books. Most of your pages will probably feature this style of artwork.
- Vignette: A vignette is a picture that’s cut around the edges and doesn’t extend to the page edge like a full-bleed page does. Placing a full-bleed page next to a page with a vignette can keep your design balanced.
Use Professional Printing for the Best Results with Children’s Book Design
Once you design a children’s book, make it look its best with professional printing. At Dazzle Printing, we regularly work with children’s book writers who want to self-publish. We can help with expert printing and first-class customer service. If you would like to get an idea of how much it would cost to print your children’s book, check out our online calculators.