Effective Picture Book Subtitles

Effective Picture Book Subtitles

Do picture books need subtitles? Well, no, not strictly. Just like any other book, a subtitle is a chance to tell the prospective reader something more about the topic of the book. For picture book biographies, titles are often some provocative phrase, followed by the person’s name and this feels very natural.

For example, Susanna Reich’s picture book, Jose! Born to Dance: The Jose Limon Story.

But what subtitles can do for you book these days is make it easier to find online and in databases

Consider including key words in your titles. For example, if I was going to add a subtitle to my picture book, 19 Girls and Me, it would be “Kindergarten Friendships” or even, “Back-to-School Kindergarten Friendships between Genders.” I don’t want that clunky subtitle on the book anywhere! I just want it included in databases to make it easy to find for categories that teachers might search. And they will search “kindergarten friendships.” Maybe they won’t search “gender friendships.” Unless, it’s Women’s History month. But maybe they will.
Talk to your editor about using a subtitle just for databases. It’s not a common practice yet, but it makes perfect sense.


What are your favorite picture book titles?
Write subtitles for some of your favorite books, trying to think about how it would be found in a search engine

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