My dad one day decided to write a children's book, and my wife illustrated it. However, we've had some difficulties in putting the illustrations into a book format. What kinds of things should one consider when designing the layout for a children's book?
Speaking from experience of reading books to my three sons, which are now five years and below.
I must add that this may apply mostly to younger kids and elder toddlers. However, I still think the below holds true for nearby ages as well, in many cases.
Likewise, I'm also considering making children's books, and these are the main things I would consider (and avoid more often than not, except the last paragraph):
If it's not intended as a concept of its own – try avoiding cases where text and images don't sync:
For example, you turn a page and the new page begins with a fair amount of text that still goes on about something that happened on the previous page. This introduces confusion since the kid(s) may be all stoked about the things they see on this new page, whereas you (the reader) is supposed to keep reading about 'the past' (as the kids perceive it).
Multiple scenes on same spread
(This probably applies more strictly to ages below 3–4 years.)
Another very delicate consideration (that should often if not always, I'd say, be avoided for younger audiences) is when you introduce two different 'scenes' on a single spread (one on
With scenes, I mean different narrative states which are significant enough to warrant small but somehow distinctive transitions in the story.
This introduces a few problems. One being that it can be hard for the child to relate what it's looking at, with what you're reading, when the images signals different things. Another problem being that it imposes a certain itch (sometimes even requirement) to point on each element that illustrates what you're reading about. In other words, your finger has to do the 'synching' I was talking about previously. It's often prone to confusion.
(Yes, this is almost entirely targeted towards young childrens books.)
Coil bound, or spiral bound books add a fantastic feature that most childrens books lack – the ability to really turn a page around, making it easier to hold in one hand, and help remedy the caveats I mentioned above. It also adds favorably to the book's longevity, I think.
In the same vein, laminated or stiff, coated paper will do wonders to a book's sturdyness and lifetime. This of course involves taking these physical attributes into account in early design stages.
I think you should use A4-format (Length: 297mm & Width: 210mm). The companie(s) who are printing the book will automaticly resize the document to their standards. Don't make the design dark and mysterious, believe me, children won't like that. You should design a colourful something, like yellow, green, blue and make sure looks child friendly. Imagine: 'How would I react on this layout when I was a child'.
Children may prefer more pictures than text.(Actually many adult are so, as well)
Head First series have a heavy use of graphics to impress readers and improve efficiency and it turns out to be a success(at least for me).
Hope Head First's style might give you some inspiration.
Take the binding into consideration
Do not let important parts of an illustration disappear into the binding.
When designing the layout for facing pages, consider carefully that the space in the middle will appear partially hidden and partially curved: while reading, the book does not appear as a flat surface, unlike the page on your desk or computer.
This makes it especially difficult to get an illustration that crosses the page boundary right.
The same applies to the text, which should be kept at a comfortable distance from each side of the page.