The Power of the Picture Book


What a powerful medium the picture book is. There is so much young children can learn from turning the pages of a beautifully illustrated story. Most picture books have fascinating plots, strong characters and a good moral message. Readers can laugh, they can worry, they can be happy as the character they are rooting for achieves something amazing, conquers an obstacle, or manages – with a little bit of help, or not – to overcome evil.

StarBright143711 1

Grand as these themes may sound, the original idea for your picture book can be really simple. During the course of my writing career, I have really enjoyed turning an ‘ordinary’ incident into a ‘fun’, appealing picture book.

We are always being told that all good writers need to be observant: they must look carefully at their surroundings, notice what’s happening around them and even eavesdrop on conversations at coffee shops! I think this age-old advice is particularly relevant for the creation of a picture book.

The idea for one of my early picture books came to me from a simple observation. When I was living in KZN, I one day found myself driving very slowly down a winding, cattle-infested road on my way from Balgowan to Howick. I noticed some small boys at the side of the road pulling wire carts behind them. This brief flash of life on a steep, winding road was the inspiration for my story, ‘Champion Cart Makers’. On another occasion, while I was living on a stunning smallholding in Balgown, I took note of the ingenuity of a small boy who had no money to buy his brother a birthday present, so – he made a plan! This resulted in my writing the picture book, ‘The Car with Three Wheels’. But my favourite seed for a story was generated while I was in a coffee shop listening in to a conversation of two mothers, who were lamenting the restlessness of their boys who were with them at the table. It turned out it wasn’t their conversation that inspired me; it was the actions of those boys. They couldn’t stop squeaking their shoes together – over and over again. Result: my hilarious picture book, ‘Squeaky Shoes’, where the classroom is in chaos because of an imaginary mouse!

As you will probably have gathered, I love writing picture books. Sadly, there aren’t so many opportunities now to get this genre published, and I believe that children get so much joy from these books.

Fortunately, I have lately been able to indulge my passion for picture books by writing three heart-warming stories for three different Christian publishers: ‘Star Bright’, which is about a small girl wanting to make the new girl in her school happy; ‘The Greatest Treasure’, about a small boy who tries to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but he discovers real treasure instead, and ‘The Master Builder’, about a young girl who is much braver than the adults in the story when she is courageous enough to tell truth to power.

I hope I will have more opportunities in the future to get my picture books published. In the meantime, I can’t stop writing them. I also hope that there are other picture book writers out there who enjoy this genre just as much as I do. If so, keep writing and have fun doing it!

Back To Blog
Breath of God by Gillian Leggat
Want to order one of my books or want to sign up for my writing workshop?

Get in Contact Today!
Contact Me
The Diamond Pathway by Gillian Leggat
Copyright © 2023 Gillian Leggat | All Rights Reserved
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram