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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

It's All About Titles

This content was originally posted at Children's Book Academy.

I’m happy to be posting my second piece as a Blogateer! This time, it’s all about TITLES! I’ll focus on how to brainstorm engaging titles, and I’ll offer some examples of titles that make readers want to stop, look, and read. CREATING TITLES Just as character names are important, so are titles. In a bookstore or library, children spend a short amount of time looking at the book cover. The cover art is crucial in piquing interest and grabbing the reader’s attention. And a compelling title can have the same effect. An engaging title can increase the chance that a young reader will stop, look, and read the book. If the words of the title interest the child, the chances increase that the child will pick up the book. In my debut chapter book and my picture book, I used words including “enchanted” and “magic,” hoping that young readers will gravitate toward stories with a magical twist. I also added “paintbrush” to capture those kids who enjoy art and creativity, and “collection” to appeal to those who love to collect. I hope that by choosing these words, I can connect with potential readers. In another upcoming picture book, I devised a title to take off on a popular saying. At first, I titled the book “Ready, Set, Go,” but my critique pals advised that this title sounded too generic and they didn’t get a sense of the story. So I revised, and switched to READY, SET, GORILLA! This title tells the reader that a gorilla will feature prominently in the story, and also implies that there’s a race involved. Hopefully, this will encourage young readers who like gorillas, and a bit of competition, to pick up the book and peek inside. As wordsmiths, writers are very particular about the words they choose to capture the story. It’s also crucial to pay similar attention to the words of a book’s title. EXAMPLES OF COMPELLING TITLES Here are ten of my favorite titles, from recent picture books, that encourage children to stop, look, and read: Whobert Whover, Owl Detective by Jason Gallaher - The name Whobert Whover is brilliant, with the questioning word “who” and the sound “hoo.” Plus, anyone who loves owls or detective stories will want to read this book. After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat – If you enjoy nursery rhymes, you’ll want to read this book to find out what happened to Humpty Dumpty. Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin - Who is Manjhi? Why does he need to move a mountain? This title makes the reader want to find out (and extra points for great alliteration). Love, Triangle by Marcie Colleen - Super wordplay about a shape and a situation with three competing parties. How will this dilemma be resolved? Daddy Depot by Chana Stiefel - The reader can picture a huge depot warehouse that sells all types of dads. Which dad will be perfect - we want to find out more! Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall - The reader will want to turn the page to see what Jabari jumps into (and great alliteration). 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar - We know the joke and want to see how the author interpreted it. Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale by Corey Rosen Schwartz - Any play on Cinderella will get some notice, and the fractioned fairy tale wordplay is also engaging. I Have a Balloon by Ariel Bernstein - Balloons are perennial favorites and the reader wants to know why this balloon is special. Plus, will the “I” have the balloon for long? Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro - A bunny, a book, and a club . . . sounds appealing (and more fun alliteration). * * * Until next time . . . happy writing, creating, and crafting titles!


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