SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Another word count for PB question,

Discussion started on

But this time it is regarding the brevity. In upper middle grade short fiction my work would commonly be around 896 words. Yet for some reason when I do a picture book, it always comes out short. Around 180 to 324 words.

Is there a specific minimum to shoot for, or is it an I'll know when I see it?

The books I read were from like years ago (like Where The Wild Things Are and Peter And The Wolf), and I would imagine the standards are a little bit different now.

I have a couple of books I'm getting now, but they are still old old books.

Going for poetry to prose was weird, and now I find myself going back to verse again. *makes dizzying motion.
#1 - June 20, 2014, 09:47 AM
You can find my stuff at: uggc://

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region midatlantic
I don't think there is a specific minimum.  I read a book the other day that had about 30 words.  I'm sure the illustrator notes filled up the page though :-)
For Picture Books you need just enough to tell the story and not a word more.
#2 - June 20, 2014, 10:52 AM
Odd Animal ABC's (Blue Manatee, 4-2-19)
She Leads: The Elephant Matriarch (Familius, May 2020)

So... you haven't read any current pbs?

Get thee to the library!!!!

And to answer your question, we shoot for maximum of 500 words. My agent will always make me cut to reach this magic number or less. (She'll swoon if it's less.) So, you're fine.
#3 - June 20, 2014, 02:15 PM
« Last Edit: June 20, 2014, 02:29 PM by Pam »

Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight series

Princess Peepers
Multiplying Menace

There's no minimum word count to shoot for. If you can tell the story in under 350 words, that's fine. Ask any busy parent (who will have to read the pb over and over and over) and they'll probably tell you, the shorter the better.
#4 - June 20, 2014, 02:22 PM
Even Superheroes Make Mistakes (Sterling, 2018)
Even Superheroes Have Bad Days (Sterling, 2016)
Mine! Mine! Mine! (Sterling, 2006)

At the extreme, there are wordless picture book. 0 words; 100% pictures. However, the pictures can be very engaging and tell the story without the need for words. (ex. THE LION AND THE MOUSE by Jerry Pinkney)

Then there baby books which, I find, are more words and pictures: 25'ish words (1/2 words per page/board); 99% pictures. However I think theses are more to understand basic names of things than follow a story. (ex. PAT THE BUNNY)

Then you get board book introductory stories which have around a 100 words, like GOODNIGHT MOON. And then you get into minimally worded picture books of 100s of words, like IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE.

It all depends on what kind of story you are telling and how you want to tell it. Rather than counting your words, make sure all your words count and the story length is suitable to demographic and type of story.

btw, this is a good site: Children's Book Types and Suggested Word Counts (link)
#5 - June 20, 2014, 05:16 PM

I'll actually be moving near a library hopefully, and then I'll check some out.^^

That demographic chart is really helpful.^^ Thanks.
#6 - June 20, 2014, 06:53 PM
You can find my stuff at: uggc://

Oh, good! I remember when I studied 100 pbs in four weeks (for a pb class) It was an eye opener! If you have a bookstore near you, browsing can help as well.
#7 - June 20, 2014, 07:51 PM

Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight series

Princess Peepers
Multiplying Menace


0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.