Thursday, February 22, 2024


By Bonni Goldberg

One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve read (so long ago that I can’t remember who wrote it) that applies to non-fiction kidlit writers is don’t squander your research on just one project.

It resonates with me as part of a family that makes it a mission to use every part of a Thanksgiving turkey (turkey sandwiches; soup from the bones, cartilage, and marrow; giblets incorporated into the gravy; the skimmed fat to roast potatoes; and crackling).

We all know that writing a nonfiction picture book takes a great deal of research. Imagine a word count or page count comparison between the research notes and a finished picture book. Most readers would be shocked. Whereas we non-fiction writers would simply nod.

For some of us, research is the best part of the writing process. Others of us set timers for our research sessions to avoid rabbit holes.

Either way, research takes a lot of time. Your time is valuable. So is your research. And not just for your current book project. Besides, why would you keep the cool, unused information you found to yourself?

Before bundling your notes away in a drawer or the cloud, consider publishing some of it in a different format. Here are ten options.

Writing Formats

1. Activity Sheets
Create activity sheets related to your book that further enrich, entertain, or educate a young reader’s experience and make them available on your website. As an example, DONA GRACIA SAVED WORLDS includes the fact that Gracia and her family spoke Ladino. I made an activity sheet introducing young readers to a few Ladino phrases. The activity is also valuable for Jewish educators.

2. Articles
Use your research to write an article for a children’s magazine. Write about an aspect of the topic of your book that you had to leave out or an additional aspect of something in your book that children would also find fascinating.

3. Poetry
Write a poem to submit to a children’s magazine. Let the poem speak to a theme, lesson, or take away from your book. Or write a poem about something you followed down a research rabbit hole.

4. Another Book
Write a book for a different audience that incorporates an aspect of your topic or includes the same topic and focuses on a different theme. I’m working on a middle grade historical fiction that includes Gracia. In the novel, she isn’t the main character. Also, the novel’s themes differ from the picture book.

5. Blog Posts
Did you have an unusual experience while pursuing your research? Write a post about it on your own blog or as a guest blogger on a site related to the topic. I know a writer whose research included discovering some lesser-known historical sites in Ireland. He wrote about them for a travel blog.

6. Activity Book
Compile a group of similar activities, or a mix of different ones, centered on an aspect of your topic: recipes, jokes, experiments, action steps for social change, etc. A funny camel appears in an information fiction project of mine. I’ve collected a lot of camel themed jokes and puns that may find their way into a camel themed activity book.

Alternative Formats

Don’t forget formats other than writing.

7. Podcast
Did you interview some interesting people? If you have their permission, create a short podcast interview series.

8. Thematic Calendar
Each month of your calendar could highlight a seasonal habit of the animal you wrote about. Depending on the topic of your book, you could feature monthly recipes, environmental actions, etc.

9. A Poster
This is the best medium to emphasize a statement or to help young readers remember steps, an affirmation, or important facts. A theme from Doña GRACIA SAVED WORLDS that could make an engaging poster is, every person is like a whole world.

10. A Card Deck
There is no set number of cards in a deck. A card deck would be fun for a book like Tara Lazar’s ABSURD WORDS. In round one each player could pick one word from the deck to use in a sentence and in subsequent rounds two words, three words, and so on until only one player is successful.

Your turn: Pick one format above. Give yourself an hour to develop it using research from your last or latest research.

These are just some ways you can further utilize your research. Please share creative ways you’ve done it or other options you’ve considered.

About The Author

Bonni Goldberg is author of the children’s picture book, Doña Gracia Saved Worlds, illustrated by Alida Massari. Bonni is an award-winning poet and writer and the author of The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public, the companion book to the best-seller Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer’s Life. You can find more about her at and check out all the Gracia related activities.   


  1. Helpful tip. Usually when I research something I find much more interesting things than what I started with. So all parameters are useful. Thank you!

  2. This is an amazing post! Thanks for sharing all these creative ideas. :)

  3. Thank you so much for this helpful post! I am a former library storytime educator, and now I homeschool my daughter, so the want to create extra activities to go with my books, and to find additional fun and informative resources to pair with books we read, has stayed with me. For each story time I would need to come up with corresponding activities, songs, games, and crafts based on the books and the story time theme of that week. When additional resources you mentioned are readily available by the authors, it is helpful for so many librarians, teachers, and homeschooling families! I really appreciate this list to have for reference as a writer when working towards creating more with our manuscript research information! Thanks again!

  4. What a list of opportunities! I will have to come back to here once I manage to get something published. Thank you Bonni.

  5. This is so helpful! I hate to cut any piece of data I so lovingly researched - they are useful!

  6. Great suggestions, Bonni! I've definitely gone down rabbit holes. For another option to share, I've excitedly told family members or friends about something I've learned. :) Congrats on DONA GRACIA SAVED WORLDS! I'm a huge fan.

  7. Great advice and tips on how to not waste our research material. Thank you for sharing them.

  8. Wow! This post is full!!! Reminders of recycling research and new ideas for using out recycled information. Thank you, Bonnie.

  9. Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing creative ways to recycle research.

    Suzy Leopold

  10. Bonni, you have fabulous format ideas! Thank you :)

  11. These are such great ideas! So many beyond what one might 'usually" think of. Thanks so much, Bonnie.

  12. What fun ideas for using my research over and over in so many ways!

  13. Great ideas! Card decks sound fun, as do activity calendars.

  14. Great ideas, Bonni! And congrats on DONA GRACIA SAVED WORLDS! I've had some research done for magazine articles later come in handy for a picture book manuscript. Finding multiple uses for that research is so rewarding and I love all the other ideas you shared that I hadn't thought of!

  15. So true! So much time and effort and dedication goes into this research. Loved the many ideas for how to use those unused gems!

  16. Thanks for the great ideas on recycling research. I love the timer idea you mentioned-that would help me limit my time in the rabbit holes!

  17. Such great ideas! Thank you.

  18. These are fantastic ideas, Bonni! Thanks for much for an excellent post! And you know I love your work!

  19. I've recycled a lot of research, but your Alternative Formats ideas--wow! I just got several new ideas. Thank you.