Tag Archives: our ancestories

30 TIPS for Writing Delightful Children’s Books Day 8


When I joined the children’s book industry professionally in 2015, I thought nonfiction was a special genre for writing textbooks or other books for school. It sounded absolutely boring to me and I thought I would never go near that genre.

Fast-forward a few years and it is becoming one of my favorite genres. What changed?

One day, I realized that as a history buff, most of the bits of information I have about world history came from nonfiction books and those books were NOT textbooks. They were actually interesting and fun, some had amazing illustrations and most were relatable. At age 9, I had gone through all the volumes of the big fat red, Encyclopedia Britannica. And that my friends was nonfiction at its worst (well, most voluminous). These days, nonfiction is more interesting. The creation of more subgenres (types) has made it even more interesting for children.  

By the way, nonfiction is really literature which provides verifiable information based on facts. Some good examples are biographies, memoirs,how-to books, etc.

Types of Nonfiction.

  • This is the most popular form of nonfiction. It is particularly loved by writers of fiction because it utilizes the same structure and elements as fiction. Some examples: memoirs, biographies, description of past events, etc. All the picture books on my list below as well as the middle grade book by best-selling author Soontornvat are examples of Narrative Nonfiction.

Other types are: Expository, Traditional, Active and Browsable. For more information, read this article by Melissa Stewart


  • Know the type of nonfiction that you are interested in
  • Read Read Read as many nonfiction books as you can lay your hands on. Ensure that this book is also
  • Research Research and Research some more. Know your subject like the back of your hand.
  • Do find a theme/ through line for your book: remember, the theme is the heart of the story.
  • Remember the elements of fiction, try to use them as much as possible. Think of your subject (human, plant, animal, place) as the character. Your subject’s habitat or the place where the primary event(s) take place is your setting. Find an emotional angle to your story and you’ve found your theme. And then determine the cause of events in your subject’s story: plot. Who describes your subject to the reader? POV

Need a refresher on the elements of fiction. Look at the Tip #4: Elements of Fiction here.


Picture Books

  • Berrne, Jennifer. On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein. Chronicle Books, 2016.
  • Brown, Monica. Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos. NorthSouth Books, 2017.
  • Flemming, Candace. HoneyBee: The Busy life of Apis Mellifera. Neal Porter Books, 2020.
  • Hannah-Jones, Nikola and Renee Watson. 1619 project: Born of the Water. Kokila, 2021.

Chapter Book

Kola-Lawal Constance Omawumi. My Nigeria: Early History. Farafina Tuuti.

Middle Grade

  • Soontornvat, Christina. All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. Candlewick, 2020.

  1. Action: Look at the tips above and try to go through them one after the other. Read (like a reader, i.e. for fun) as many nonfiction books as you can find.

2. Read (Like a Writer)

Determine the type of nonfiction you would like to try and read as many books in that subgenre as you like. Remember to identify the age group also. For example, if you want to write narrative nonfiction (i.e. maybe a biography of an important person) for younger children, 4 – 8, then read nonfiction picture books.

For every book you read, note the craft element that appealed to you in the book and note how the author used it.  

Want to write a story for children, don’t know where to start? Tell me all about it and we can figure out the theme and some mentor texts for you!

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Idia of the Benin Kingdom

Title: Idia of the Benin Kingdom

Author: Ekiuwa Aire; Illustrator: Alina Shabelnyk

Publisher: Our Ancestories

Number of pages: 40

Type of Book: Picture book, Fiction with elements of Non-Fiction

Age: 4 – 8

Buy it here: ;  https://our-ancestories.com/product/idia-of-the-benin-kingdom-childrens-book/ ; https://www.amazon.com/Idia-Benin-Kingdom-Ekiuwa-Aire/dp/1777117925/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Price: $17.99; $13.99


Idia was an ordinary little girl who had an extraordinary dream about a brave female warrior with magical healing powers. Curious, she begged her father to teach her how to be a warrior and her mother to teach her the art of magic and medicine. Little did she know that she would become the brave warrior in her dream as well as the first Queen mother of the ancient Benin Kingdom. Read this story of perseverance and courage to learn about the history of one of Africa’s most illustrious queens.  


UP: I have read quite a bit on Queen Idia as I mentioned in an earlier post but I have never read a book about her childhood so I absolutely loved this one. The author used sprinkles of rhyme and repetition and lots of lyrical language to make this picture book a great read. Blending fact and fiction, she described the life – particularly the childhood – of Queen Idia with some detail and quite a bit of flair.  

One of my favourite paragraphs:

People buzzed with excitement in the center of the village. The Oba (King) was there. Hands slapped drums. Fires were started to cook the feast. Idia adjusted her beads and greeted all her friends.

The illustrations blew my mind. They are vibrant, detailed, apt, evocative and sublimely different from the norm, they truly gave life to the words and made the book shine!

I also loved the use of Edo words. The icing on the cake was the historical factsheet at the end of the book. I loved everything about this book and I would highly recommend it for lovers of Edo culture and their children. 😀

DOWN: None.


🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟


  1. Read it for free via Kindle Unlimited.
  2. Register with http://eepurl.com/g8iB-D to receive a free digital copy of the Idia of the Benin Kingdom coloring and book.
  3. Watch a video trailer here:
  1. For more information about the book, visit https://our-ancestories.com/product/idia-of-the-benin-kingdom-childrens-book/

CHALLENGE: Idia of the Benin Kingdom


  1. Draw a warrior queen (4 – 6 year olds)
  2. Find four words which can be used to describe Idia in the crossword puzzle below (7 – 8 year olds)

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 4 – 8 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 13th 2020.

Next Book of the Week:


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photo credit: amazon.com