re: Is Second-Person POV Good in Picture Books?

posted 7/10/18

Dear Editor…

I’m writing a picture book and find myself gravitating toward talking directly to the reader. I’m not sure if this is a good technique, and if so, if I have to do that in every spread to maintain consistency. I know if I’m talking to the reader, I need to maintain it throughout, but I don’t want the technique to get distracting. Advice?

Talking To You


Dear Talking To You…

Kids love second-person point of view! Interactive ones like Press Here are irresistible. You WILL press. Others are less overtly interactive, like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which is so focused on the mouse, you almost don’t notice it addresses “you” directly now and then. Dragons Love Tacos dares to swing away from “you” the reader to talk to the dragon! “Hey dragon, how do you feel about spicy taco toppings?” You could argue this fails a “consistency” test, but it works because it makes the book feel like a narrator – reader – dragon convo. The leisurely rhythmic flow of the back-and-forth means there’s no jolt for the reader, so “Inconsistency Alert!” not triggered, distraction avoided. Go for it! Establish a logical, internal rhythm to avoid jolts, and consistency won’t be a problem. Hey readers, what are your favorite second-person picture books? My son’s is Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, which essentially demands readers talk back to the pigeon. “C’mon! Just once around the block!…I’ll be your best friend!…How ’bout I give you five bucks?” No, no, and NO!

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Picture Books, Point of View
posted by: The Editor
under: Picture Books, Point of View
Comments to "re: Is Second-Person POV Good in Picture Books?" | Add a Comment
    1. Kim Pfennigwerth wrote (on 07/10/18 at 7:36 am) :

      Great question – Loved this post!

    2. The Editor wrote (on 07/10/18 at 9:31 am) :

      Glad to know this one spoke to you, Kim.

    3. Vivian Kirkfield wrote (on 07/10/18 at 3:16 pm) :

      I’m loving this post also, Deborah. When I first read a few 2nd person picture books, I wasn’t crazy about them…but I see that kids really LOVE them. Now I have to try to write one. 🙂

    4. The Editor wrote (on 07/10/18 at 5:00 pm) :

      Oh excellent! Have fun with it. I’m cheering you on!

    5. Joyce Schriebman wrote (on 07/11/18 at 6:06 am) :

      I started a book that instinctively came out 2nd person. And then I changed it. Hmmm… Maybe it’s worrh revisiting… Thanks for sharing!

    6. Wendy BooydeGraaff wrote (on 07/17/18 at 5:29 am) :

      DON’T BLINK by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is another pb that directly addresses the reader. Thanks for this post!