When two (or more) types of text exist on the same page, the picture book has layered text. Perhaps a story or poem about a nonfiction topic and additional facts about that topic as a sidebar. Or maybe there are two stories intermingling like a dual melody creating interesting music.
Why Layer Text?
Layered text takes a lot of information and breaks it up into bite-sized pieces.
Readers on multiple levels can enjoy the book. The younger reader and pre-readers might just be interested in the story parts, while the older reader will be able to use the book in their research projects.
Unlike textbooks with paragraphs of fact after fact (in complete sentences), picture books with layered text help the reader’s retention and comprehension by grounding those facts into something more relatable.
Word Count Rules
Most editors and agents will advise a new writer to keep their word count below 500 in picture books. However, picture books with layered text follow different rules. While the main story should still be around 300 words (ideally), the ‘call outs’ or other layered text can add another 500 (or more) words. It’s acceptable to separate the main word count and call outs in your manuscript to show an understanding of word count rules.