Rachel Brown ’16 Capstone – Writing and Publishing a Historical Fiction Children’s Book

For her senior capstone project, Rachel Brown ’16 wrote, illustrated, and published a historical fiction children’s book called A Report on the 1920’s. The book tells a story of a grandmother and granddaughter and their discussion of 1920’s history in New Jersey. The historical events covered focus on women, and the book includes the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, Alice Paul (MFS Class of 1901), the Miss America Pageant, Prohibition, and the Holland Tunnel.  

“It took about four months for me to write the book,” said Rachel. “With a historical fiction children’s book, I kept it to five sentences maximum per page, and I decided to include a glossary of terms in the back of the book to define unfamiliar words to kids in a short and sweet way.”

To complete her storyboard, Rachel switched into her second role as illustrator.

“Illustrating was definitely my greatest challenge,” said Rachel. “I drew 50 illustrations for a 25- page book, but I wanted everything to look simple and uncluttered so I cut many illustrations. The kids I babysit provided great input on what pictures they liked best.”

In addition, Rachel held multiple focus groups with young children to receive feedback from her target audience. She found that her book was greeted warmly by the youngest children, aged 3 to 6, but older children did not prefer picture books.

Once her story and illustrations were set, Rachel decided to self-publish her book after she realized that publishing through a publishing company generally takes two years.

“My favorite part of this experience was getting my copy of the book in the mail and seeing my own ISBN number,” said Rachel. “I was super proud!”

Middle/Upper School Science Teacher Andrea Robinson was Rachel’s capstone advisor. Rachel also credited First Grade Teacher Emily Traver with providing insight on addressing young children and Academic Technology Coordinator and Journalism Advisor Diana Day for assistance with editing and publishing.