Begin at the Beginning by Amy Schwartz. (Harper, 1983).
When a little girl is overwhelmed by trying to create something magnificent her mother gently helps her refocus on the small things she truly knows.
Billy’s Picture by Margaret & H.A. Rey. (Houghton, 1948).
In this variation on “too many cooks spoil the broth” Billy’s friends are so eager to critique and revise his picture it becomes unrecognizable.
Black Elephant With a Brown Ear (In Alabama) by Barbara Ann Porte. Art by Bill Traylor. (Greenwillow, 1996).
In this ingenious book Porte shares the writer’s world of imagining “what if” as she looks at images by the folk painting Bill Traylor. How do you get ideas? You get them doing this.
Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera Williams. (Greenwillow, 1986).
How many stories can grow from a single seed? Countless. How to nurture creativity in others? Paper, pens and listening
Danny’s Drawing Book by Sue Heap. (Candlewick, 2007).
Danny takes his drawing book everywhere. When he and Ettie visit the zoo the combination of their experiences, questions and imaginations create a vibrant new story.
David’s Drawings by Cathryn Falwell. (Lee & Low, 2001).
David draws what he sees, but well-meaning friends keep adding their advice on what he needs to do to “improve” his drawing.
Do Not Open This Book! by Michaela Muntean. Illus. Pascal Lemaitre. (Scholastic, 2006).
As funny as it is outrageous, this romp touches on everyone’s fears and foibles about writing.
Doodler Doodling by Rita G. Gelman. Illus. Paul Zelinsky. (Greenwillow, 2004).
Where do fresh ideas come from? Playful doodling with words and ideas!
Emma by Wendy Kesselman. Illus. Barbara Cooney. (Doubleday, 1980).
Emma loves her family and art. At 72 she realizes that she has cause and abilities to create. She begins painting the visions she loves—past and present.
Frederick by Leo Lionni. (Pantheon, 1967).
This fable celebrates the place and value of the artist in society.
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel. (Harper, 1970).
While Toad chases after story ideas, Frog knows his daily experiences are the stuff of stories.
Goldie the Dollmaker by M.B. Goffstein. (Farrar, 1969).
Goldie is an artist and a lover of art. When she spends far too much on a lamp she loves, she comes to realize that all artists create for those who will love their work as much as they do. Artists create for their beholders, friends they will never meet.
Lizard’s Song by George Shannon. Illus. Aruego & Dewey. (Greenwillow, 1981).
Our best creations come out of our own lives instead of echoing others.
Play With Me by Marie Hall Ets. (Viking, 1955).
With patience, quiet, and deep receptivity, those formerly illusive ideas will come.
Regina’s Big Mistake by Marissa Moss. (Houghton, 1990).
What first seems like a terrible mistake becomes a springboard for a fresh, unique idea.
Simple Pictures Are Best by Nancy Willard. Illus. Tomi dePaola. (Harcourt,1976).
Just as this family tries to get all their possessions into one photo, what writer hasn’t tried to get all his beloved ideas into one story? Less is more.
Three by the Sea by Edward Marshall. Illus. James Marshall. (Dial, 1981).
This early reader shows and evokes so much about what goes into making a good story I recommend it to writers of every age.
Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel. (Harper, 1981).
Uncle Elephant creates songs and stories out of his daily life AND his heart is lightened through the process.
What’s the Big Idea, Molly? by Valeri Gorbachev. (Philomel Books, 2010).
Molly is a writer in love with beautiful words, but ideas are often illusive. What first seems to be frustration or failure sparks a lovely, unique birthday gift.
A Writer by M.B. Goffstein. (Harper, 1984).
A beautifully distilled essay in picture book form on the life of a writer.