Paying Attention to Titles (and Subtitles)
What draws readers into a story before they open the book? The title!
Great titles (a) grab the reader’s attention and (b) reflect the book’s tone, topic, and heart. As a nonfiction writer, I also study subtitles, which provide important additional information.
Here are five outstanding examples.
This title/subtitle combination signals a unique book that tells parallel stories: the life of Tracy Hall (who invented a process to create artificial diamonds) and the formation of a natural diamond.
LISTEN: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing.
By Leda Schubert, illustrated by Raúl Colón
The “Listen” grabs our attention. The subtitle explains who this wonderful biography is about.
MARTí’S SONG FOR FREEDOM: Martí y sus versos por la libertad.
By Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal, translation by Adriana Domínguez
The cover communicates that this beautiful book about Cuba’s heroic poet José Martí (a) emphasizes song and poetry, and (b) tells the story in both English and Spanish.
PASS GO AND COLLECT $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented.
By Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Steven Salerno
Monopoly-playing kids will recognize “pass go.” The subtitle really grabs us—who doesn’t want the REAL story?
THIRTY MINUTES OVER OREGON: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story
By Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Melissa Iwai
This intriguing title is paired well with a subtitle giving readers more information.
Christy is offering a signed copy of her book, Hey, Hey, Hay! A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them, to one lucky winner. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.
Christy Mihaly wrote the informational/fiction picture book Hey, Hey, Hay! A Tale of Bales and the Machines That Make Them. (Her editor at Holiday House, Grace Maccarone, came up with the subtitle—which explains the book’s topic, intrigues young tractor fans, and subtly signals that it’s a rhyming text.) Christy’s YA nonfiction Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought (complete with punny subtitle) was co-authored with Sue Heavenrich and published by TFCB/Lerner. Her next informational picture book is not yet subtitled.