Board Books vs. Picture Books vs. Early Readers

April 3, 2023

Three wooden dinosaurs sitting on a stack of books. Photo by cottonbro studio on

Thinking about writing a children’s book, but you’re not sure what kind you want to go with? Have a vision, but don’t know what that vision means?

Simply wondering what some of the differences are between different kidlit categories?

Children’s books fall into a few categories. Considering I deal with books for younger kids, I thought we’d go over the three youngest categories – board books, picture books, and early readers. Here’s a quick overview:

Board books are for ages 0-2 and focus on things like the alphabet, kinds of animals, etc. There’s really no plot to them, just concepts to introduce to tiny humans! However, some books that start as picture books will be turned into board books.

Early readers are essentially longer-form picture books. They might have fantasy elements and big adventures or keep it grounded with something like a field trip while still keeping it simple. They’re for kids who can read on their own or are working at it; think about series that publishers put out, like Random House’s Step into Reading. Those are early readers!

And then there are picture books, which are what I edit. They’re for ages 3-8 and designed to be read out loud by an adult. They feature simpler plots and words that give kids a sense of how to read for themselves through elements like rhyming, repetition, and visual cues. Within the age range, you can narrow down your target audience, opening up different plot options. For instance, you probably wouldn’t write a picture book about dragons and wizards for a three-year-old, but a seven-year-old might lap it up!

Tell me: what category do you enjoy writing or editing?

Published by Kaila Desjardins

Freelance editor, fiction writer, proud nerd.

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