The Nuts and Bolts of Picture Book Biographies

Multi award-winning picture book biographer Jen Bryant gives a comprehensive lesson on how to write a standout picture book biography, including:

  • How to choose a subject
  • Do you need permission from your subject (or their estate)?
  • How to choose an angle or focus for your biography
  • Best tips for researching your subject
  • How to write an emotional arc that's also factual

Your Instructor

Jen Bryant
Jen Bryant

Jen Bryant writes picture books, novels and poems for readers of all ages. Her most recent biography, Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille, illustrated by Boris Kulikov, won the ALA Schneider Family Book Award for ages 0-10.

Her biography A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, received a Caldecott Honor. Their second collaboration A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, won the ALA Schneider Family Book Award for ages 0-10, the Orbus Pictus award, was named a Sibert Honor Book, received four starred reviews and is a Junior Library Guild Selection. Their third collaboration, The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus, received a Caldecott Honor and The Sibert Medal and was an Orbis Pictus Honor Book.

Jen’s novel in verse RINGSIDE 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial is an Oprah Recommended Book for ages 12 & up. Other titles include Pieces of Georgia (IRA Young Adult Choices Pick), The Trial (1935 Lindbergh kidnapping trial, a Borders New Voices Pick), Kaleidoscope Eyes (a 1960’s–era novel, a Junior Library Guild Selection), The Fortune of Carmen Navarro (Paterson Prize for Young People), Georgia’s Bones, celebrating the life of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and Music for the End of Time, based on a true WWII story.

Jen has a BA from Gettysburg College, an MA from Arcadia University, and an Honorary Doctorate from Gettysburg College. She has taught writing and Children’s Literature at West Chester University and Bryn Mawr College and gives school and public lectures throughout the year. She lives with her family in Chester County, PA. When she’s not writing or taming the piles on her desk, Jen enjoys visiting museums, swimming, cycling, listening to music and cheering wildly for the Phillies.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
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