With tons of picture book recommendations ready to fly off the shelf and into your home, you may find it helpful to be armed and ready with a library card during ReFoReMo. No one is expecting you to run right out and buy the titles that are mentioned during the challenge. As a picture book addict, I know how tempting that might be. You may even find yourself criss-cross-apple-sauced on the floor of your local book store in order to read some of the desired titles for the first time. I’m guilty of that, too. But, the library’s online reserve system is super handy and your kids’ library cards can serve as great back-ups when you’ve maxed yours out.
The goal of ReFoReMo is not to sell more picture books for authors and it’s not for us to share our favorites either. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that we all have so many favorites that the list could fill a book on its own. A big one. We understand that the picture book market is filled with authors who deserve a shout out. But, that’s not really what this is about either. It is about the reading and research that goes into your craft. Learning how other authors have successfully used mentor texts to improve their writing can help us try new things, too. ReFoReMo is about the process of utilizing picture books as mentor texts.
Just like any recommended reading list, it is subjective. You may find that some of the books have nothing to do with your writing style. You may disagree with a recommendation. You may find some books recommended by multiple authors and even similar learning tips. To me, that’s a good thing. When I hear something more than once, it tells me to sit up and listen. But ultimately, you have to decide what works for you. You know the projects that you have on your table and I applaud your efforts to find a pile of picture books that will enhance each one.
All you need for this experience is an open mind for learning, a willingness to read the daily ReFoReMo posts, a heart for studying the books that appeal to your own personal writing, a pencil, and a notebook. If you registered between February 15-March 1, you may also opt to join the ReFoReMo Facebook group to discuss revelations.
To be eligible for prizes at the conclusion of ReFoReMo, you will want to make efforts to consistently read picture books on a day to day basis between March 8-28. We are on the honor system, and you must keep track of your own progress. A complete registration between February 15-March 1 and a comment on the post (with your first/last name that matches registration) is required for eligibility to enter giveaways. Prizes will be announced as ReFoReMo progresses. The biggest prize will be the knowledge you gain from reading and researching picture books. We are all winners!
Please feel free to visit the Tools and Schedule tabs for more information. You’ll find the guest posting schedule, a reading list, and even a few research tools for your convenience. These sections will grow each day as we reveal more guest posts. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask. The Facebook group is the best place for your questions, but feel free to email Carrie as a second step. We will do our best to respond as quickly as we can.
I'll be turning the daily posts over to our guest-educators tomorrow, so I'd like to leave you with a valuable study tool. As a picture book critique mentor, I often see manuscripts that require plotting assistance. When I experience a plot problem in one of my own stories, I reach for a formula from my teaching roots, and work my way through mentor texts. While it is true that not all picture books will fit this formula perfectly, the plot connection elements are still there in one way or another.
Carrie Charley Brown is a professional critique mentor with an editorial eye. She is the founder of ReFoReMo, a research challenge and blog for picture book writers. Carrie is a picture book writer, kidlit video producer, writing coach, and guest blogger on various sites. She runs a separate blog, Carrie On...Together, which features THINK QUICK and Mystery Author interviews each month. She was a 2014 CYBILS fiction picture book panelist and an elementary teacher. You can follow her writing journey right here on this site.