20 True PBs + NF Creator Tips + HUGE Giveaway!

Get Ready! There’s a LOT in this one little post.
Whether you’re a book creator, teacher, librarian, or reader, you’ll find a gold mine of craft tips from authors and illustrators of inspiring 2020 nonfiction picture books who banded together to form a group called 20truePBs.

20truePBs Titles

Plus, we’re doing a huge giveaway of these 2020 releases. EIGHT winners will be selected from those who leave comments on this post. Each will receive two of these new, true picture books! (Not all of the 2020 books have released yet.)

Check out this video for a sneak peek of some 20truePBs –

Now let’s get to those insightful nonfiction tips:

“Remember that you won’t be able to put everything into your book. Choose the single golden thread.” — Annette Bay Pimentel, author of All the Way to the Top

“Tell a story that is authentic to you and it will resonate authentically with readers.” — Rob Sanders, author of The Fighting Infantryman: The Story of Albert D. J. Cashier, Transgender Civil War Soldier

“Check all facts for copyrighted or trademarked material, and search for and contact foundations, trusts, or legal groups related to someone or something mentioned in the story. Get permissions in writing if needed, and let agents and publishers to whom you are submitting know that you’ve done your due diligence.” — Silvia Lopez, author of Queen of Tejano Music: Selena

“When writing narrative nonfiction, don’t be afraid to address conflict in an honest way. Think about all of your research and look for the story arc. Where are the highs? Where are the lows? And then consider which elements will be the most interesting to children” — Michelle Meadows, author of Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles

“Before beginning a new nf project, carefully consider your proposed book topic (you’ll be living with it for a long time!) You might ask yourself a few questions: Do you have any personal connections, an educational background, or primary sources to bring to the project? Are there are other picture books on the topic? If so, does your book idea have a fresh angle or unique perspective?” — Suzanne Slade, author of Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters

“Put together a varied, expansive back matter before you submit (author’s note, more info, fun facts, timeline, etc). It might change completely, but it shows your passion for your subject and the depth of your research.” — Emma Bland Smith, author of Odin: Dog Hero of the Fires

“Your story doesn’t have to be linear, but it does need a compelling arc. Look for the climactic moment and build around it.” — Anika Aldamuy Denise, author of A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer!

“There can be long gaps in time between research, drafting, revising, submitting, and publishing a nonfiction book. It doesn’t matter how you research, or what method you use to store your links and sources, but it does matter that you keep them all in one accessible place, because it’s very likely you will need to reference some of them later. Whether it’s a plastic box with lid, a folder, or a special “info dump” document properly filed and saved on a backup drive—save yourself time and headaches by making sure all of your research for a single book can be easily found when you need it again.” — Miranda Paul, author of Speak Up

“When writing a true PB, don’t be afraid to ask for information from experts – whether they are your local librarian or historical society curator…or an author of a book on the subject you are researching…or even the president of a fan club – you just might tap into a firsthand source or a detail that was missing.” — Vivian Kirkfield, author of Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

“While you’re researching, you’ll find out so much fascinating information about your subject. Realize that most of it will never make it into your book, but knowing it will add greater depth to your books.” — Laurie Wallmark, author of Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics

“After you’ve done your research, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and summon your subject. Slowly draw out what your subject wants to say. Let that voice move through you as you write. Trim away anything that isn’t beating, breathing with the fierce urgency of what needs to be said. Your story ignites when you mix a bit of your soul with the soul of your subject and find words in which both of you can live.” — Nancy Churnin, author of Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring

“Don’t be afraid to put emotion into your nonfiction story; in fact, try to find the emotion deep in the story and channel it as you’re writing. That emotional core—whether your topic is a person, a movement, an animal—is what truly draws in readers and engages them with the amazing true facts you’ve uncovered in your research.” — Meeg Pincus, author of Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery

“When you bump into a challenging part of your research or writing, remind yourself to approach your experience in the same way you would like readers of your book to approach their own learning experiences. Stress and insecurity interfere with learning, so re-embrace your curiosity and have confidence in your capacities.” — Debbie Diesen, author of Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America

“Research not only the character, but also the time period where the book takes place and find out what was going on politically, globally, what technology was available, what was fashionable…etc. Use these details to enrich the backgrounds of each illustration to tell a more accurate story.” — Kayla Harren, illustrator of Fiery Night: A Boy, His Goat, and the Great Chicago Fire

“It’s so important to research the subject until all details large and small are familiar to you.   It’s only then can you illustrate the story in the most authentic way.” — Felicia Marshall, illustrator of Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring

“Before starting the drafting process, it is important to research and understand in depth the history of people, culture, timeframe, and places where the story takes place. That way, the illustrations will represent the story more faithfully and lend it greater narrative strength, allowing the reader to identify more readily with the book.” — Paola Escobar, illustrator of Queen of Tejano Music: Selena

I hope all you nonfiction aficionados find these ideas helpful as you craft your own fascinating, true stories!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Giveaway Details: Eight winners will be randomly selected from those who leave a comment on this post. Lucky winners will be notified via email Oct. 13.

Learn more about 20truePBs: Website, Blog, Facebook, and Twitter

Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade is the author of more than 100 books. A mechanical engineer by degree, she enjoys writing about science topics and fascinating historical figures. Recent books include: SWISH! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon, The Daring Dozen, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, Astronaut Annie, Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, Dangerous Jane, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, The Inventor’s Secret, and Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Coming soon -- MARS IS, JUNE ALMEIDA VIRUS DETECTIVE! THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED THE FIRST HUMAN CORONAVIRUS, THE UNIVERSE AND YOU, and TBA titles from Calkins Creek, Peachtree, and Random House. Learn more about Suzanne and her books at: www.suzanneslade.com

123 Comments:

  1. These are such inspiring books for kids…and adults!

  2. Love these helpful comments from some of my favorite authors re: tur book tips. Congrat to you all. Would love to win and add to my bookshelf.

  3. Great advice & the books look so interesting!

  4. Congrats everyone–nothing like welcoming a new book! Thanks for all the terrific advice, too.

  5. What a wonderful collection of books! Love the advice also. Thank you!

  6. Wonderful tips and a great collection of books! I especially love Debbie’s reminder to “re-embrace your curiosity and have confidence in your capacities.”

  7. What a treasure trove! I’m salivating! Thanks for the wonderful tips and giveaway.

  8. WOW! Such great looking books! Hope I can win some for my twins!

  9. Great tips! I love researching and sometimes get carried away on so many tangents. It’s hard to keep the writing focused after learning so many interesting new things!

  10. Congratulations on all the 2020 NF releases. As someone navigating writing NF, these tips are very helpful.

  11. Wow, what a selection of wonderful books! Congrats to all!

  12. Avatar
    Debra Kempf Shumaker

    Wow! Love all these pieces of advice! Brilliant.

    Thank you!

  13. This is so cool…and full of GREAT tips! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Such a great selection of books! Nonfiction pb bios are my favorite types of kids books. I loved the advice from all these expert authors–but I really loved Nancy Churnin’s about channeling both your subjects voice with your own and letting it breath! Amazing!

  15. I have one of these books but would love to add any of them! I get lost in another world reading picture book biographies and any non-fiction! The problems of today disappear when I’m in that world! I get as much out of reading them as my grandkids do when I read to them! Working on some manuscripts now and love these simple yet smart tips!!

  16. My seven-year-old can’t wait to read Flying High! As a dual language teacher, I am sure Selena: Queen of Tejano Music is going to be hugely popular in classrooms. These all look wonderful! Congratulations to the authors and illustrators!

  17. Wow, such fantastic informative and tips! Thanks and congratulations to the whole group. I can’t wait to get all your books to share with my students! 😊

  18. What a generous opportunity! Thanks so much for the chance!

  19. Wow, what a great collection of NF writing tips! Thank you, Suzanne and all the contributors.

  20. Avatar
    Danielle Hammelef

    Thank you for all the nonfiction tips. I really enjoy writing nonfiction for kids and seeing the graphic of so many mentor text books will make it easy for me to start placing holds at my library/requesting titles for purchase. And thank you for the opportunity to win copies of my own to read, study, and share here.

  21. The books look interesting and the advice is priceless.

  22. Such great tips! Thanks for the food for thought!

  23. Awesome post and giveaway! Congratulations to all on these fabulous books!!

  24. Thanks for the great recommendations!

  25. Wonderful books! Congratulations to all authors and illustrators!

  26. Thanks for sharing tips from a dynamic group of NF PB authors and offering an amazing giveaway.

  27. So many outstanding book titles. I enjoyed reading several of the featured picture books.

    Thank you for introducing me to new *must read* titles by excellent authors.

  28. Wow! What a fabulous giveaway!

  29. A great collection of books and fun facts! We’d all be fortunate to have any one of these on our shelf.

  30. What a fantastic group of writers and NF books! Congrats to all on your fabulous stories for kids.

  31. What a fabulous group of writers of NF stories for kids. Congrats!

  32. These tips are full of inspiration gold! I may have to print them out and put them by my desk. Thank you.

  33. I love NF picture books and these new ones all look amazing! And really appreciated all the insightful tidbits of writing advice.

  34. Avatar
    Kathleen Mazurowski

    Wow! Wonderful collection of words of wisdom for readers and writers. Thanks for the opportunity.

  35. This is a wonderful collection of stories for children.

  36. I am saving all of this advice! I love it. Also, the books are so helpful for me as a classroom teacher. Thank you for this awesome post.

  37. Wow! These all look AMAZING! Congrats everyone on these beautiful books!

  38. Wow! just Wow! Look at all these brilliant titles!

  39. Great advice. I am printing it off to read over and over I am posting it above my computer! thank you, terri

  40. Great advice. I am printing it off to read over and over. I am posting it above my computer! thank you, terri

  41. These titles inspire readers to reach out for more information! Great ideas!

  42. What an interesting assortment of topics and books. Congrats to the authors featured! Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom. 🙂

  43. Such an awesome group of nf books! I can’t wait to read them all! And great advice for authors !

  44. The books look amazing! Congrats to all! Thanks for all the advice/tips, too. Great post!

  45. Congratulations and happy book birthday to all! Thanks so much for the valuable advice!

  46. Wow! This is a new site for me and I feel like I have found a gold mine! I can’t wait to dive into these books and posts! 🙂

  47. Avatar
    Katherine M Adlam

    This is an inspiring group of PB’s. I can’t wait to read them all. What a wonderful way to introduce children to some larger than life real life characters.

  48. Excellent advice. Thanks for sharing!

  49. Avatar
    Janet Frenck Sheets

    It’s interesting to see the range of subjects featured in these books. The world is filled with amazing people (and creatures)!

  50. How fortunate are our young readers….and their grown-up reading partners…to have so many beautifully created books that tell true stories about real people!
    A treasure trove, for sure.

    Thank you all, for your kidit gifts….and for your generous giveaway!

  51. This is fantastic! Thank you so much.

  52. An amazing group of NF books! Congrats to all the writers and illustrators! The information and advice from the authors was so interesting and helpful! Thank you!

  53. Thanks for the collection of tips for writing NF.
    As a mentor in the leading to reading program for elementary grades school kids, I’d love to have these books to get them interested in NF.

  54. Avatar
    Vickie W Blankenship

    Wonderful selection of books! I am a primary school library and I would love to add any of these books to the library collection

  55. These all look amazing! Love the video!

  56. Great list! Thanks for posting!

  57. Great advice and a fantastic giveaway! Fingers crossed I win something for my classroom 🙂

  58. Avatar
    Elizabeth Volkmann

    Fabulous advice from some super stars!

  59. What a wonderful collection of books. Would love to share these with students. Thank you for this opportunity

  60. I read All The Way to the Top and The Oldest Student to my fourth and fifth grade learners. I hoped that these books would inspire them.

  61. Such a great line-up of books! *fingers crossed*

  62. I’ve read nine of them! The Oldest Student and Making Their Voices Heard are my favorites!

  63. Congrats to everyone! Thanks for all the NF tips!

  64. What a spectacular group of books and authors. Such great tips!!

  65. There are a lot of really helpful tips here. Thanks to all of you for your willingness to share.

  66. Avatar
    Carmela McCain Simmons

    Score! A cornucopeia of sage advice from so many of the best storytellers around. Thank you for sharing and your inspiring work.

  67. These are wonderful NF writing tips. Thank you!

  68. What a wonderful collection of books! I love learning about new literature to share with my students.

  69. I adore teaching with picture books such as these. Such important messages from inspiring people, that really get us thinking and questioning the world around us. Thank you so much for this post!

  70. I liked the video you all put together. Fun to hear the authors’ voices and accents and see their various ages and styles. 🙂

  71. Thank you, 20 True PBs, for the helpful advice, great video, and amazing collection of NF books you have put out into the world! Congratulations!

  72. Avatar
    Patricia Daniele

    Some wlnderful and helpful tips hefe. Much aplreciated.

  73. Congratulations to all! I love seeing so many amazing NF picture books coming out.

  74. Thanks so much for this amazing post!

  75. This is all such great advice! Thanks to all the book creators — can’t wait to read all these beautiful books.

  76. Such an amazing opportunity!!! Thank you!! These are gorgeous !

  77. These are awesome! Thank you for doing this!

  78. Interesting book titles😍

  79. Interesting book titles

  80. Such wonderful books! Thank you for sharing…

  81. I would love to add these books to my 4th grade classroom library. Thank you for the chance.

  82. Great writing tips! What a nice collection of books this appears to be.

  83. I love the video in this post more than anything! It’s great to put faces to the authors!. And as a lover and collector of quotes, I found all of these to be inspiring!

  84. Thank you for this wonderful post and your generosity! I teach an entire nonfiction unit in both writing and reading workshop! These books would fit in perfectly. My Kinders would love these book! I’d be thrilled to add these beautiful books to my virtual classroom! Picture books are one of the only things that I’m able to share with my Kinders while we are virtual. Thank you! ✨🌈🎉❤️

  85. What an awesome looking lineup!
    This reminds me that I need to ask the librarians if they are able to get more NF picture books, I miss that from my old library.

  86. Wow, what a stellar list of PBs!

  87. What a wonderful selection of books! Would love to win these for my daughter’s classroom library.

  88. Such an amazing and inspiring group of books and authors. Thank you.

  89. What an amazing collection!!! Thank you for the opportunity. If I win, my nephew is going to get a whole little library of knowledge to treasure! ❤️

  90. What an amazing collection!!! Thank you for the opportunity. If I win, my nephew is going to get a whole little library of knowledge to treasure!

  91. EPIC giveaway! And I will certainly return to the advice shared by the creatives who poured their hearts into these books.

  92. What a great selection of books, my nephew would love them!!

  93. What a treasure chest of advice from nonfiction picture book creators! Thank you for assembling these titles and quotes from authors and illustrators.

  94. I love nonfiction picture books. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with history and research. Congratulations to all of these amazing authors! Your tips are great.

  95. Wow, what an amazing opportunity. I 💛 non-fiction picture books! Fingers crossed I win these for our elementary school library

  96. Love Madame Saqui & can’t wait for Odin. Such a grwat list of books.

  97. These are really great tips for writing NF! Thanks for those and the chance to win!

  98. Holy wow! Thanks for the tips and titles! I’ve bookmarked this post to refer to again and again as I work on my first NF PB attempt. 🙂

  99. Thank you for sharing all these wonderful tips. Such varied and detailed advice from a hugely talented group. Thanks, too, for the generous giveaway opportunity!

  100. Very insightful research suggestions and writing tips. I find writing emotion into NF mss tricky. And when critiquing, I find that writers of PB bios often do not ground the reader in the time period and place. It’s good to see those issues raised in this post.

  101. Such an impressive list of writers and subject matter. The video clip was a delightful touch. Can’t wait to get my hands on these books. Even more excited to possibly have my own PB book listed here.

  102. What a great post. I love all the tips for writing nonfiction. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I know I’ll return to this post for inspiration again and again.

  103. Wow! This is such a great selection of books! Thank you for the chance!

  104. This is fabulous post and collaboration. I especially love the many varied tips that will support my next steps of writing a NF PB. I’ll be checking out a lot of these in search of mentor texts. Thank you all!

  105. Thank you for all the information and inspiring tips!

  106. Avatar
    Carolyn M Walker

    Love these tips and what a selection of titles! Would love to share them with students!

  107. What a fantastic group of books! Thank you for sharing all these titles!

  108. Great advice and releases! Huge fan of Anika’s books!

  109. Great post would love to put these books in our Elementary Library if I win this giveaway

  110. What a wonderful collection! Plus the stand alone tips weave a wonderful how-to capture a non-fiction book’s essence. Thank you.

  111. Congrats to all of the authors on your new books. And thanks for the nuggets of wisdom!

  112. This was a post that made it to my “Print out and keep” category. It is filed in my Nonfiction Resources notebook, where I can refer to those amazing tips easily! Thanks so much for some great ideas.

  113. What an incredible list of Nonfiction books! I also am thankful for the resources/ information about each of the books! Thank you for the opportunity to possibly win these amazing books for our library!

  114. Awesome Sauce group of authors & illustrators in this post! I especially love the advice given by Silvia Lopez, Author of Queen of Tejano Music: Selena (biography), as she reminds us to check our sources and ensure you are doing your due diligence! Well done! Proud to leave a comment here among some of the greatest in children’s lit!

  115. These are incredible pb suggestions to use in the classroom!

  116. Great selection of books! Thanks for doing this giveaway. Gonna be some happy folks with new books!

  117. I’m probably too late for the giveaway, but I just wanted to say that these are wonderful books ! thank you for showcasing them!

  118. Wonderful! Congratulations to all!

  119. Thank you for this post and the listing of these NF titles. Can’t wait to view the new ones to me.

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