Writing a Children’s Picture Book

Turn your ideas into fully-fledged story-book texts for 2-6 year-olds with advice from a published children's picture book author.

CBC photo


Jan 23 2019 - March 05 2019






Is your imagination brimming over with characters and stories that would make great picture book texts for young kids? When you're reading aloud to the child in your life, do you find yourself thinking, "I could write something as good as this"? Or perhaps you've already written stories that children love, but haven't figured out how to make them attractive to publishers? Our online course Writing a Children's Picture Book will help you turn your ideas into fully-fledged story-book texts for 2-6 year-olds and teach you how to raise your work to a professional standard. And you can take part online from anywhere in the world and at times to suit you.


David O'Connell

David O’Connell is a writer and illustrator living in London, UK.  His first book was Monster & Chips, the first of a series of funny (and revolting) adventures of ‘hooman’ Joe Shoe whilst working at the Monster Diner of friendly monster Fuzzby Bixington. He then collaborated with  Sarah McIntyre on the picture book Jampires, inspired by a comic they improvised together. He has also collaborated with Sam Watkins, Francesca Gambatesa and Tom Nicoll. His latest series is the Dundoodle Mysteries, illustrated by Claire Powell.


Writing stories for very young children is lots of fun, and can seem very simple. But there's great skill involved in bringing those memorable characters and colourful worlds to life - and you have just a small number of carefully chosen words in which to do it. The best children's picture book stories fire our imaginations and stay with us for our whole lives - so how do you work that magic?

In this online creative writing course, popular children's book author and illustrator David O'Connell guides you through the unwritten rules of how to write children's picture book texts, teaching you how to plan your story using the forms and format that publishers like; showing you how to develop your characters and their worlds; how to sharpen your style and use language in ways that children love - and how to develop your writing professionally, so as to attract publishers.

The course uses specially written and filmed teaching videos, notes and weekly writing tasks from David O'Connell. It takes place on our secure online learning platform, with dedicated forums for students to share and discuss their work. Across the course, you'll acquire the necessary tools to write a picture book story - and at the end of the course, you will have the opportunity to share your complete picture book text and get written feedback from a member of the CBC editorial team.

Our course also features filmed conversation between David O'Connell and his friend, the illustrator and author Sarah McIntyre. David and Sarah worked together on the picture book Jampires (David Fickling Books) - and here they talk about creative collaborations and their experiences of writing and drawing children's picture books. Sarah is also the writer and presenter of our companion course: Illustrating a Children's Picture Book.

Open to all-comers, the Writing a Children's Picture Book course is the right choice if you are looking for expert advice on writing the story (ie. the text/words) for picture books for the under-6s. If your focus is on illustration, take a look at our Illustrating a Children's Picture Book course with Sarah McIntyre. If you would like to develop as a writer and illustrator, you can either start off with one of these courses, and then take the other course at a later date - or you can enrol now for the combined course - Writing and Illustrating a Children's Picture Book, which brings together the teaching materials from both courses at a discounted price.

The course is suitable for complete beginners as well as those who have already written picture book texts but want to learn more and improve their skills. It's also suitable for people who've previously written in different forms (eg novels for older children or adults), and for people who've taken creative writing courses with universities or other organisations (as well as other CBC courses). We can't promise this course will get you an agent or a publishing deal, but it aims to demystify the children's picture book publishing world and help you to understand what children's publishers look for in a submission.

If you'd like to join us for Writing a Children's Picture Book, simply enrol and pay by midnight on Monday 21 January.  

What does this course give you?

This is the most practical of creative writing courses, showing you how to write picture book stories, and advising on the length and format liked by publishers. You should have produced a complete picture book text by the end of the course. 

  • You’ll get six Teaching Modules across the six weeks (see schedule below for details), all delivered through our secure online platform.
  • You’ll watch specially filmed Teaching Videos from successful children's author David O'Connell (at least three videos per module).
  • You'll watch a specially filmed discussion between David O'Connell and illustrator/author Sarah McIntyre - his friend and collaborator on the book Jampires - delivered in small video episodes across the course.
  • You’ll read extensive and practical Teaching Notes from David (the course is underpinned by more than 20,000 words of original, specially written teaching material).
  • You’ll have access to additional Resources – uploaded PDFs which are collected in a dedicated area of the learning platform to support the teaching topics and provide useful reference material for the students. These include a reading list, a glossary of useful children's publishing terms, and a template showing how a children's picture book should be set out.
  • You can share work, comment on other students' writing tasks and communicate with others and with us in the Forum. Our learning platform features separate forum spaces for each teaching unit, arranged in a clear structure that’s easy to use. This enables students to quickly find and take part in discussions and to easily locate task materials they’d like to refer back to. The forums are moderated by the CBC team, who also provide technical support.
  • You’ll undertake weekly writing tasks set by David O'Connell, designed to help you progress the planning and writing of your story. You'll be posting your work in the forums and we encourage students to offer positive, constructive feedback as the course progresses. Each week, a reader/editor from the CBC team will be reading the work posted and offering some focused comment on a few students' work - so that every student will receive written feedback on a writing task at least once during the course.
  • At course end, we invite you to share – with us and fellow students – your complete picture book text - written with the help of the course. All students will receive written feedback on their final picture book text from the CBC reader/editor. (NB. This is not a submission to the Curtis Brown or C+W agency but should help you to ready yourself to send your work to agents and publishers). 
  • You’ll have continued access to all of the teaching videos and notes after the course ends so you can refer back to them at any time.


Wed 23 January – Tues 29 January
Discovery: Reading as a writer

Wed 30 January - Tues 5 February
How to find inspiration and develop ideas

Wed 6 February – Tues 12 February
Creating characters and settings 

Wed 13 February - Tues 19 February
Writing technique - finding the words

Wed 20 February - Tues 26 February
Planning your story - working to the right format 

Wed 27 February - Tues 5 March
Next steps - professional development, and how to approach publishers & agents

Students to receive feedback on their picture book texts shortly after the end of the course

Pay and enrol

If you are purchasing this course for yourself, please click on the 'Pay & Enrol' button below. Enrolment closes at midnight on Monday 21 January. 

If you would like to purchase a place on this course – or any other of our other writing courses for someone other than yourself, gift vouchers are available to buy online. Read terms & conditions here. 

Join the Course

Full participation in this online course.
PRICE £200.00