IT'S ALL ABOUT TITLES
by Melissa Stoller
I’m happy to be posting my second piece as a Blogateer!
This time, it’s all about TITLES! I’ll focus on how to brainstorm engaging titles, and I’ll offer some examples of titles that make readers want to stop, look, and read.
Just as character names are important, so are titles.
In a bookstore or library, children spend a short amount of time looking at the book cover. The cover art is crucial in piquing interest and grabbing the reader’s attention. And a compelling title can have the same effect.
An engaging title can increase the chance that a young reader will stop, look, and read the book. If the words of the title interest the child, the chances increase that the child will pick up the book.
In my debut chapter book and my picture book, I used words including “enchanted” and “magic,” hoping that young readers will gravitate toward stories with a magical twist. I also added “paintbrush” to capture those kids who enjoy art and creativity, and “collection” to appeal to those who love to collect. I hope that by choosing these words, I can connect with potential readers.
In another upcoming picture book, I devised a title to take off on a popular saying. At first, I titled the book “Ready, Set, Go,” but my critique pals advised that this title sounded too generic and they didn’t get a sense of the story. So I revised, and switched to READY, SET, GORILLA! This title tells the reader that a gorilla will feature prominently in the story, and also implies that there’s a race involved. Hopefully, this will encourage young readers who like gorillas, and a bit of competition, to pick up the book and peek inside.
As wordsmiths, writers are very particular about the words they choose to capture the story. It’s also crucial to pay similar attention to the words of a book’s title.
EXAMPLES OF COMPELLING TITLES
Here are ten of my favorite titles, from recent picture books, that encourage children to stop, look, and read:
Whobert Whover, Owl Detective by Jason Gallaher - The name Whobert Whover is brilliant, with the questioning word “who” and the sound “hoo.” Plus, anyone who loves owls or detective stories will want to read this book.
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat – If you enjoy nursery rhymes, you’ll want to read this book to find out what happened to Humpty Dumpty.
Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin - Who is Manjhi? Why does he need to move a mountain? This title makes the reader want to find out (and extra points for great alliteration).
Love, Triangle by Marcie Colleen - Super wordplay about a shape and a situation with three competing parties. How will this dilemma be resolved?
Daddy Depot by Chana Stiefel - The reader can picture a huge depot warehouse that sells all types of dads. Which dad will be perfect - we want to find out more!
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall - The reader will want to turn the page to see what Jabari jumps into (and great alliteration).
7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar - We know the joke and want to see how the author interpreted it.
Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale by Corey Rosen Schwartz - Any play on Cinderella will get some notice, and the fractioned fairy tale wordplay is also engaging.
I Have a Balloon by Ariel Bernstein - Balloons are perennial favorites and the reader wants to know why this balloon is special. Plus, will the “I” have the balloon for long?
Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro - A bunny, a book, and a club . . . sounds appealing (and more fun alliteration).
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Until next time . . . happy writing, creating, and crafting titles!
Melissa Stoller is the author of the debut chapter book THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND (Clear Fork Publishing, July 2017); the debut picture book SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Clear Fork, 2018); THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: THE LIBERTY BELL TRAIN RIDE (Clear Fork, 2018); and READY, SET, GORILLA (Clear Fork, 2018). She is also the co-author of THE PARENT-CHILD BOOK CLUB: CONNECTING WITH YOUR KIDS THROUGH READING (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant for Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with SCBWI-MetroNY. Melissa writes parenting articles, and in previous chapters of her life, she has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing or reading, she can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, traveling, and adding treasures to her collections.
Connect with Melissa online at
@MelissaStoller (Twitter), and
12/11/2017 09:04:33 am
Great post. I am working on a piece now where I go back and forth on the title! Thanks for reminding me how important titles are.
12/18/2017 12:18:31 pm
Thanks for commenting, Ellen! I love thinking about titles...I am so glad you found this helpful! Can't wait to see your new title!
5/8/2021 01:15:25 am
yes it all about titles, thanks for sharing
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10/1/2022 01:24:12 am
yea these titles are very catchy
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We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome multi-published former student Shirin Shamsi who will be focusing on Muslim and cultural kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break