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How to Do a Storyboard for Children's Books


A storyboard is a visual narrative layout spanning all 32 pages of a trade picture book. Many writers consider storyboarding an essential tool in the beginning drafts of a manuscript. A storyboard gives authors direction of the story from beginning to end. The layout verifies that text, pacing and plot work within the picture book format. A writer does not have to be an illustrator to construct and utilize a storyboard. Storyboarding can assist non-illustrating writers adjust basic sketches and scenes. Ideally, components of the storyboard move to give the writer control of the story structure. There are many versions of storyboards to suit the preferences of the writer.

Use a chalk board for a rough draft of the layout.

Draw and number 32 large blocks on the dry eraser board with the dry marker. Picture books are typically 32 pages, and each block represents a page. If your book is longer, add more blocks. You can also use a chalk board and chalk. This will be the preliminary rough draft.

Write the narrative in numbered blocks drawn on a dry board.

Write the narrative of the picture book in the numbered blocks. Four pages are usually allocated for the title, dedication and biography pages. A single block is a one-page spread, and a double block is a two-page spread.

Sketch the characters.

Sketch the characters in the corresponding block. Non-illustrating writers may use rudimentary sketches or stick figures. Study the overall message of the storyboard. Make any necessary changes or adjustments to the spreads.

Number each index card.

Number each of the 32 index cards, reserving four for the credit pages.

Draw pictures or symbols on the cards.

Write the narrative on the numbered cards. Draw the scenes and characters. Medium-sized Post-its may also be used. Color coding and using multicolored cards can add detail. Refer to the working draft on the chalk or dry board if necessary.

Adjust the cork board in the best working position for you.

Prepare the cork board and push pins to assemble the storyboard. Position the board on the wall or floor, in whatever position is most comfortable for you and gives you the best visual perspective.

Assemble the cards to make a storyboard.

Assemble your storyboard by putting up one card at a time to create a spread. A storyboard typically has a single-page spread, 15 two-page spreads and the final one-page spread.

Use sticky stationery to make new notes.

Move the cards around to experiment with the story's sequence, pacing and plot. Add self-adhesive stationery notes like Post-its to include any new notes.

Tip
  • Use the zoom feature on Microsoft Word to create several pages for a computerized storyboard version. Move the zoom past the midpoint to 50 or 60 to create two-page spreads. The type will be small, so increase the font size to 24.
Items you will need
Large cork board
Push pins
3x5 index cards
Large dry eraser board
Dry marker
Self-adhesive stationery notes
About the Author

Kathy Price has been writing since 1990. Her work appears in “Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe," “African Voices” and "The World." Price taught at City University of New York for six years, edited "Tribes" magazine and received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.

Photo Credits