Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Behind the Books: Writing STEM Picture Books, Part 3

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been discussing the surprising amount of time it can take to write a STEM picture book. Staying the course requires patience and passion. For me, passionate nonfiction starts with a question. It also needs to have a personal connection. (Scroll down for a full discussion of these characteristics.)

Today I’m going to talk briefly about the third characteristic of passionate nonfiction—an irresistible hook. Simply put, if there’s no hook, there’s no book.

Let’s look at three book covers:
These titles have a strong hook that’s obvious even in their titles. When kids read them, they immediately become curious and start asking questions. Those questions intrigue readers and propel them though the book until, ultimately, their curiosity is satisfied.


  1. Melissa, I think this is the hardest element for new nonfiction writers. The hook is what sets expository literature apart from traditional nonfiction, yet it's the hardest to nail down. I'd love to see more posts on this topic, as I'm maintaining a list of resources for new writers, and expository resources are scarce.

    1. I have lots of expository writing resources on my website. Here's one that focuses on the relationship between hook and text structure:

  2. I agree. The hook is a major challenge. As you'll see as this series continues, the interplay between the hook, text structure, format, and voice are really at the heart of a great STEM picture book.

  3. This is the mantra I use when I work with new writers. Of course, your saying is more catchy. I may have to use that from now on (and give you credit, of course). But this is absolutely correct! Another fabulous post, Melissa