Story Book vs. Picture Book

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When I was researching Categories for our second book series, Sandy the Cat, I noticed there are only a few degrees of separation for each category of Children’s Books. Depending on where you look and who you ask, you will soon discover that all of these categories overlap, and it is important to focus on word count, not necessarily context when you are selecting your category.

Storybook, Picture Book, Early Picture Books? What category should my book be classified under?


This group is for 4-8 year old’s, kindergarten to grade 3 or higher.  While doing months of research, I found that text layouts that consist of six pages and up (at 200 words per page) are for older children and adults. Total word count can be 1200-2000 words. Most books I have seen in this category run five to nine pages (at 250 words per), or 1250-2250 words. So if your story is 1000-1200 words, I guess it could maybe fit in either category? (See what I mean about a few degrees of separation.) And actually since the word count has gone down for early picture book’s, it probably has for this group, too. Closer to 700-1500.

Story picture books or picture storybooks, do typically have more words, so the text to picture ratio is heavier on the text. In these longer story picture books, the illustrations are meant to help hold the listener’s attention and aren’t really an integral part of the story, at least not in the same way. These books often have text that might even take up the entire page, as they have more of a storyline and plot development. Typically, text and art are separated on the page, and the text could stand alone. Champ and Nessie is a Story Picture Book.

What we refer to as a Picture Book covers everything from pop-ups to e-books, graphic novels to non-fiction, baby books to sophisticated. A true picture book combines pictures and words to tell the story. One cannot function without the other. To understand the story fully the reader has to read both the illustrations together with the text, words alone would not be sufficient without the images. This is why it is important to have a great illustrator, Artwork is 50% if not more, of the story. In true picture books the text is pared down to just the narrative, illustrations fill in the description, and may include wordless sub-plots.


This category is often simply called a picture book. When publishers talk of picture books, they are probably talking about this group. Especially when the word count is considered to be no more than 500. I don’t now any child under 2 that can make it past 500 words, if they even make it that long. But 2-5 year old’s can sit still for longer periods of time. A picture book for this age child should be about 2-5 manuscript pages, or 400-1000 words. General rule of thumb, a typical manuscript page is 250 words and the number of manuscript pages for this age picture book is two to four, or 500-1000 words.

Below you can check out my Children’s Book Length Cheat Sheet along with our other FREE pintable’s and start writing your story. For more writing inspiration and FREE worksheets to help you plan your Children’s Book, click here.

Storybook, Picture Book, Early Picture Books? What category should my book be classified under?

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