If you've ever drawn a heart for the word "love," you've written a rebus. Rebus, writing which substitutes images for words in the text, is used by authors to write books for young readers able to identify only a limited number of words. Rebus books substitute pictures for the harder words that young students cannot yet identify or decode.
A rebus puzzle encourages children to sound out words and find letters, numbers, and images that can replace words in a story while still making the story understandable by a writer. Rebuses create a unique challenge that may entice even the most reluctant of writers
Generally a rebus story uses 7 to 10 picture words, some of which are repeated in the story. Focus on nouns, colors, and numbers. Verbs don’t make good picture words. There should be only one way to "read" the picture. For example, "smile" is not a good rebus word because the reader might be confused with a picture that showed a mouth, teeth and lips. But, "nose" is a good picture word because there is no confusion as to its meaning.
What topics work best? Anything that is part of a 2- to 6-year-old’s world: family, friends, home, toys, animals, school, holidays, weather, gardens and nature. Sometimes a retold folk tale works well in this format.
Keep the language and sentence structure simple. Don’t worry about using big words if they can be pictured. For example, hippopotamus or wheelbarrow will be used with a picture.