Are you considering writing or illustrating a children’s book? Or, perhaps, you are a parent who is curious about how children’s books are designed.
If so, there is a good chance that you are suddenly realizing that there is quite a bit that you don’t know about this literature category. After all, much of your focus has been on adult novels.
Well, believe it or not, there are a number of factors that determine how children’s books are constructed. This includes the number of words, pages, images, and more. To get a better idea of the structure, here is what you need to know…
How Long Should A Children’s Book Be?
To start with, let’s take a look at how long a children’s book should be. Believe it or not, there is actually an industry standard.
If you were to take a look at the kids’ stories on any bookshelf, you will realize that most books are 32 pages long.
In case you are wondering why the length of the books is so oddly specific, there is a reason behind this.
The number of pages traditionally included in a children’s book was decided a long time ago. It has remained the same ever since.
See, in earlier days, the whole target with children’s books was to keep them economical. This ensured that more parents would be willing to buy them. Thus, it was decided that the book could be printed on one, single sheet of paper.
This is a tradition that carries onto this day, except now they are divided into Tequal parts. Thus, you have the 32-page book.
The Page Structure
The above section talks about how long the book as to be as a whole. What it doesn’t cover, however, is how long the average children’s story needs to be. After all, if you were to flip through a tale, you would see that not all of the pages are relevant to the main story.
For instance, the first few pages of the book may be taken up by the title, copyright notice, and dedications. The story may contain a half-title as well. This means that three to five pages can be taken up at the very beginning.
As a result, the average children’s story is actually around 27 to 29 pages, depending on the above elements.
The Evolution of Print
While 32 pages have been the accepted length for the longest time, things aren’t quite as strict anymore.
This, of course, is due to the fact that the print industry has evolved quite a bit, thanks to technology.
Therefore, print-on-demand and e-books are becoming more commonplace.
The consequence of this is that authors – and publishing companies – have a bit more freedom to determine how long a children’s book can be. So, in the future, it will not be unusual to find children’s books that are longer or shorter than 32 pages.
Picture Book Length
Now, you may be wondering what about picture books? How long should they be? Well, if the book is for younger children, those under the age of six, then the length of the book will be the same. That is to say, picture books are often 32 pages as well.
The only aspect that really changes with illustrated books is the layout.
It’s called a picture book for a reason. Not a book with pictures. The pictures are what we see first and set the tone, mood, and style of the book. The words complement+complete them. You can have a great picture book without words. But words without pictures? Picture that!!!
— I AM BROWN (@ashokkbanker) May 16, 2022
This is regarding the balance between the number of words and the illustrations. Books that are aimed at a younger audience – around 0 – 3 years old will be all illustrations. Thus, the entire book will be made of pictures.
As kids get older, though, there are more words included as well. For instance, a picture book that is for those between the ages of 2 and 5 may have around 200 to 400 words. The 4 to 8 year old range will have 400 to 800 words. Books written for those up to six years of age may have around 1000 to 3000 words.
This doesn’t mean that there are no images in books with a greater number of words. In fact, you may still find an illustration on every page. However, the more words that there are, the illustrations become less significant. There may be there more as a point of interest rather than a story arc.
What Is the Chapter Book Word Count?
So, that covers it for the younger readers. However, what about chapter books? These books are often considered transition mediums. That is, they act as a bridge between those who are graduating from picture books and moving onto more complex materials. Most kids who read chapter books are independent readers.
Chapter books aren’t quite as strict when it comes to the number of pages. Thus, you will see that these books can be anywhere from 32 to 60 pages long. Of course, this will depend on the kind of reader that they are targeting.
What publishers do pay attention to, though, is word count.
After all, there needs to be a limit here. Since these books are for young readers, they need to still be short enough to keep the little ones interested. If they are too long, kids of this age group aren’t going to want to read them.
This is why many of these books will be between 3000 to 5000 words long.
There is a good chance that such books will have illustrations in them. However, they will be more sparsely placed in the book and be less relevant to the story as well.
There are some chapter books that may be aimed at kids between the ages of 9 and 10. In certain instances, these books can be a bit longer. They may contain up to 10,000 words although it is unlikely that the book will be any longer than that.
This concludes the in-depth look into how children’s books are structured and put together. In turn, this has taught you a great deal about book length and word count too. As you can see, there are no accidents when it comes to the creation of children’s books. Each and every detail has been meticulously planned by the author as well as the publisher.