by Laura Crawford

What do the TV show Jeopardy, a friend’s Facebook post, my car radio and  five second-grade boys have in common?

The correct answer is….they are all places or things that gave me an idea for a nonfiction picture book!

I frequently hear about real life situations that inspire fiction authors…but that never happens to me. As hard as I try, I cannot think of funny stories or books that tell a lesson.  I am drawn to the strange and unusual facts.  I now have a list of thirteen nonfiction subjects (thank you PiBoIdMo!)

For example, in The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving From A to Z, readers are always shocked to find that the Pilgrims did not wear buckles or black and white clothing. Also, did you know that turkey was not served on the first Thanksgiving? In The American Revolution from A to Z, I discovered a fascinating young woman who dressed as a man to fight in battle…and I recently completed a picture book about her heroic life.  I love it when one book turns into two!

All six of my picture books support the science and social curriculum in elementary schools.  As I third grade teacher, I found the text books were sooo booooring!  It is now my goal to present the sometimes dry and dull material in a fun way and I always keep my eight year old students in mind.  And an added bonus:  since they know I’m an author, I always have kids coming up to tell me what to write! Moral of the story; ask them what they want…they will tell you!

Now back to the first question:

Jeopardy introduced me to Harriet Quimby, a female aviator. A Facebook post about eagles from a photographer friend inspired me.  Two years ago, I heard a story on the radio about an adopted goose named Harley who flies next to his motorcycle-riding owner. And thank you to the second grade boys who MUST know about a platypus’ eyeballs!!

You never know when a nonfiction picture book idea will pop up…

Laura Crawford is a reading specialist in Sleepy Hollow, Illinois. She has six picture books for children: In Arctic Waters from Sylvan Dell, The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving From A to Z and The American Revolution From A to Z from Pelican Publishing and The Postcard From Washington, DC series from Raven Tree Press. And….she just sold another ABC last week! Visit her online at