7 Tips for Creating a Children’s Book

Have you ever considered a side hustle to supplement your Recreation Therapy income? Ever thought about creating a children’s book?  

I think RTs have a distinct advantage when it comes to creating a children’s book. After all, we pretty much know how fun and engaging activities can teach valuable lessons and address need areas. This unique perspective can set the framework for a children’s book many young eyes want to read (or be read to). 

Of course, creating a children’s book may not be as easy as it sounds. Even some of the simplest successful children’s books require time, effort, lots of edits, and probably some rejections.

But creating a children’s book is possible. Danny Pettry, Recreational Therapist and Director of Continuing Education at Rec Therapy Today is proof. 

After purchasing his recent children’s book, I CAN Do Anything if I Put My MIND to It, I reached out to Danny to pick his brain on creating a children’s book. 

Here’s what he said:

Guest Blogpost by Danny Pettry, M.Ed., M.S., LPC, NCC, CTRS-BHS

According to Joseph Epstein in Writer’s Digest, “Eighty-one percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them – and should write it.” 

Perhaps 81% of Recreational Therapists want to write a book too… 

Here are 7 tips for creating and publishing a children’s book by Danny Pettry–a recreational therapist and children’s book author.

creating a children's book image of the result

Tip # 1: Story Tips: Stories have a beginning, middle, and End 

Sometimes a story starts out bad and gets better by the end. For example: 

  • Bruce Wayne’s parents die (beginning)
  • Wayne goes to martial arts training (middle)
  • Wayne comes back as Batman to save Gotham City (end) 

Other times, stories start out great. Something bad happens and then it becomes good again. For example:

  • Beginning: Cinderella has wealth and a father. (good)
  • Middle: Father gets remarried. She has two step sisters. Dad passes away. (bad)
  • End: Cinderella wins Prince Charming over her two step sisters who were competing for him. (good)

Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and end. 

Tip # 2: Writing Tips 

Your first draft won’t be the best. Write the story. Edit it. Have a friend read it. Edit it. Have an editor review it. Edit it again.

If necessary, create an outline of the story before writing.

More writing tips: 

  • Alliteration works for children. The first word starts with the same letter or sound.

Example: A good cook could cook as much cookies as a good cook who could cook cookies.

  • Rhyming works for children.  The last word of each sentence rhymes. Think of Dr. Seuss.

 Example: From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.

  • Syllables work for children.  Each sentence could have the same amount of syllables. 

Example: (from Robert Frost poem). Each sentence 7 syllables: 

“Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though;   

He will not see me stopping here   

To watch his woods fill up with snow.”   

Tip # 3: Making Time to Write

Some people argue they don’t have time. You CAN cut out time for creating a children’s book. 

Here are some times you can cut out:

  • Scrolling for hours on social media. 
  • Watching reruns on television. 
  • Reading magazines in a waiting room. 

You can make time to write. Schedule a 30 minute non-stop writing session in your day. Or create a Massive Action Day (MAD). This is where you decide to write or create for a solid 8 hours. 

Of course, take small breaks like an hour lunch and a few 15 minutes breathers to clear your thoughts. But overall…Work a solid 8 hours on your book project. 

Tip # 4: Illustration Tips

This is easy if you’re a world class artist. Most of us, however, aren’t world class artists. 

My tip: Hire someone to illustrate your book. You can hire an illustrator from fiverr.com or other gig websites.

Illustrations can appear very simple. Check out illustrations in these books:

  • Don’t let Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Williams
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

You can also get royalty-free images from stock photo sites online. 

Also, make sure your font is easy to read. A cool font may look awesome, but some are difficult to read. 

Tip # 5: Cover Tips

People say don’t judge a book by the cover. That is very true. Some great books have awful covers. However, the real truth is that covers sell. 

People’s eyes go to those things they’re attracted to. Be sure to have an outstanding cover for your book. The cover must grab the eyes and attention of people. 

My advice: Create two covers and have a group of friends vote on which one they like best. 

Choose the one that most people like best. 

Like an illustrator, you can hire a cover creator online. Or even use the illustrator you hired to create the book.

Tip # 6: Layout Tips 

Children’s books often have 32 pages. 

Children’s books usually have under 1500 words (so they can fit into 30-minute school lesson plans).

Tip # 7: Publishing Tips:

After creating a children’s book, there are publishers that will gladly publish your children’s book for $2,000 or $5,000. Please don’t do that. 

Look up publishers that will publish books like yours. Send a proposal as they require it to be sent. 

Reject rejection. 

You probably will get rejections. So what? Someone’s waiting to discover your book. 

Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul book was rejected by 144 publishers at a book fair before one publisher said YES. So expect rejection and keep submitting. 

You can easily self-publish your book online through places like Amazon. Create your book and cover. Upload the book and cover to Amazon. Once approved, you’ll earn royalty on your books sold.

About Danny Pettry

image of Danny Pettry Children's Book Author

Danny Pettry is the Director of Continuing Education at Rec Therapy Today. 

You can get a free subscription to his newsletter for recreational therapists as well as access to self-study CEU courses here: https://www.rectherapytoday.com/free-ceu-course/ 

Danny creates children’s books during his leisure time. 

Pettry has worked as a practitioner at a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs) for children and adolescents since 2002.  Pettry often creates books to help children and teens. 

You can check out some of Danny Pettry’s book projects at his amazon page:


Thanks, Danny, for Contributing to the TRRT blog!

As always, I strive to make the TRRT blog a community and encourage others to contribute their thoughts and ideas. You don’t have to be a writer, just come with ideas. We’ll make it into a nice blog to help share with colleagues throughout the world, get your name out there, and feel good about helping others in the profession. 

Just contact me through this form and we can get the discussion started.

If that’s not your thing…no problem. If you find an article you like feel free to add comments, like, share, or repost on your favorite social media platforms.

Now, more than ever, we need to stay connected and share ideas as we face challenges no one could have fathomed at the start of 2020. 

Don’t forget to like the Real Recreation Therapist Facebook page. If you use Pinterest, check out my Recreation Therapy board with pins from featured articles and other resources.

Finally, if you are looking to connect with other like-minded professionals consider joining the Real Recreation Therapist Facebook Group.

One more thing…I have a new book out, Therapy Games for Teens. It has 150 simple, but effective activities addressing common issues like communication, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and mindfulness.

Get more information about my book.

I have some advanced copies of the book I’m willing to give out for FREE for those who want to post a guest blog on my site. So get in contact with me while I still have some available.

Hope you all are well and safe!

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