To Illustrate or Not to Illustrate | The Urban Writers

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To Illustrate or Not to Illustrate: Does My Children's Book Really Need Pictures?

by The Urban Writers

Are you confused about whether or not to add illustrations to your children’s books? Are you thinking about whether to use Kindle kids book creator software, or give up on illustrations overall? This article will give you some input on whether or not to illustrate children’s books.

Illustrations can make a big difference when it comes to publishing picture books and when publishing regular children’s books. Still, finding the right illustrator and, more importantly, funding the entire project, doesn’t come easy to everyone.


Should You Illustrate Your Children’s Book if You’re Not Publishing Picture Books?

If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re making important decisions like:

  • Whether to pitch to a publisher or self-publish
  • Whether or not to illustrate your children’s book
  • Whether to do it on your own or hire an illustrator

These questions are all connected because choosing either of those options means a lot in terms of your budget and how your book will be marketed. If you choose to pitch to a publisher, the choice of whether or not to illustrate may not be yours to make. If you refuse illustrations, that might be a deal-breaker for the publisher.

On the other hand, if you’re self-publishing your children’s book, all the decisions and choices are yours. So are the responsibilities and results of your choices. So how should you decide whether to add pictures to your children’s book? Keep reading to find out.

When to Illustrate Children’s Books

There are many reasons why you should illustrate your children's book. Here are the main ones:

  • You’re publishing picture books. Quality visuals are a must for a quality picture book.
  • Quality. Pictures add quality and value to your book, particularly if they're done well. Pictures can fill out empty spaces on the book pages, and of course, add impact and dimension to your work. If you add quality illustrations to your publication, it will also boost its price and expand your target reader base.
  • Impact. Illustrations help paint a (literal) picture of the idea or story behind a book. It will appeal better to your young readers and remain memorable.
  • Regardless of the topic and age, children's books must be entertaining to spark interest. While not all children's books require illustrations, those that have them are simply more fun to look at and read.
  • Imagination and creativity. Colors and shapes spark children's imaginations, which is both beneficial and desirable to better market your book. Books without illustrations can appear too difficult to read in young minds, particularly if whole pages are filled with text. Adding illustrations makes the book look less serious and more playful, which is always a good thing.
  • Sympathetic characters. Do you want children to like and empathize with characters? Give them an illustration! Illustrations can give characters facial expressions, and colors can communicate moods so that children can better relate to characters.
  • More for less. Illustrations help send more messages and achieve a descriptive impact without the use of additional text. This means that you can add more dimension and depth to your topic or story without increasing the volume of the book.
  • Publishing. If you’re not self-publishing, but instead pitching your children’s book to a publishing house, they’ll most likely require illustrations.

When Not to Illustrate Children’s Books

There are, on the other hand, arguments against illustrating your children’s book. Consider the following:

  • Pictures aren’t necessary to tell the story. The answer to whether or not your book needs illustrations could be both yes and Older children don't always want pictures in their books, particularly younger adolescents or older school children.

Sometimes, pictures can make a book seem more kiddy-like. At a certain age, mainly over 10, some children prefer being treated like young adults. That means they might appreciate more serious-looking books.

  • The issue of repetition. Images repeat what's been said in the text to a degree, so illustrations may not always be the best solution. Instead, you can choose a table or a diagram.
  • The child is a listener, not an intended reader. Stories might be for children, but if the book is for the parent or another adult to read to the children, illustrations may not be necessary.

Think about whether your book will be used by a parent or a teacher to read to the child. Such might be the case with longer stories or fairy tale collections, where adding images would significantly increase the volume of the book and make it too expensive for your target buyer.

  • You're self-publishing. If you're publishing a book on your own, you can fully design its marketing and target parent-for-children specifically, to highlight that the book doesn't contain pictures.

Your customers will understand that, if the book is for a child who can't yet read, the book isn't for the child to view on their own.

How to Decide Whether or Not to Illustrate Children’s Books?

There are a couple of different factors that decide whether or not a book should be illustrated. The main ones are the following:

Book Volume

Illustrations increase the book volume. Depending on the topic and the reader’s age, illustrations may not be necessary. Increased book volume also adds to the price and the quality of the book, but that may not always be good.

If you want to increase the price of your book, adding illustrations is the right way to increase its value and volume. But, if you want to make your book more affordable and accessible to wider audiences, you can think about either excluding illustrations or creating a separate, non-illustrated edition at a lower price.

Book Topic

Keep in mind that there’s a wide range of niches and topics for children's books, from coloring books to history books. Does the topic require images?

Some topics are difficult to illustrate with enough simplicity needed for a child to understand, and others may not be best represented with pictures (e.g. books with topics involving illnesses, history books that refer to wars or violent events, etc.).

Reader Age

Older children and young adolescents don’t always need pictures in their books. For example, if you’re publishing fiction for young adolescents, you may not need illustrations for your readers to fully experience the story.

There are many popular titles that can be found in illustrated and non-illustrated editions, which is always a plus to make your title suitable to a broader reader group.

Book series like A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman are good examples of books that grossed both popularity and sales among children and young adolescents, even without the use of illustrations.

Can the Kindle Kids’ Book Creator Software Help?

You now know what to consider when deciding whether or not to illustrate your children's book. But what if you do want to illustrate, but can't figure out how?

What if working with professional illustrators is too expensive, and you don't have enough skill to illustrate on your own? In that case, the Kindle Kids' Book Creator might help. It is a downloadable software that helps you insert illustrations into your book.

Kindle Kids' Book Creator has features like text pop-ups and is fully intended for eBooks. This means that you won't be able to use it for paperback editions.

However, if you're publishing a children's eBook, you can use this software to import and convert PDF files. For example, if you want to add illustrations to your book, you can import them in BPP, TIFF, PNG, or JPG, and then convert them to PDF files.

Aside from that, the Kindle Kids' Book Creator helps you edit previously published books. If you want to make changes to an already published book, you can import, edit, review, and then export using this software.


The majority of children’s books are published with illustrations. If you’re thinking about excluding visuals from your title, you can think about whether the topic, the reader, and the market need pictures in the book to fully experience and love its content.

You should add illustrations to your book if understanding the topic or imagining the story without them is difficult. If you’re aiming to increase the volume and reader base for your book, it’s also wise to add illustrations because they add quality.

However, if the reader can fully grasp the content without visuals, you can leave them out. If your reader is an older child or a parent who will read the book to their children, pictures also may not be necessary. Of course, you can always choose to offer both illustrated and non-illustrated editions to let the audience choose what they want.

If you want to have your book published by a publishing house, you’ll have to accept that it will be illustrated. If you’re self-publishing children’s books, all the options are open for you to choose.

Choose wisely, and always think about which option is best suited to the story and your reader. Last but not least, don’t forget that it is the content of the book that makes a quality read.

Illustrations in a book can be the cherry on top of the cake, but your wordcraft is the delicious fruity filling that will captivate your young reader and make them come back for a second slice.


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