See also:
Children’s Book Writing Intensive
Up next:
Children’s Book Writing II

Children’s Book Writing I is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. It’s for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

The quiet magic of Goodnight Moon grows into the zaniness of Dr. Seuss and widens into the dazzlement of Harry Potter then matures into the straight talk of Judy Blume and the gritty reality of The Hate U Give. Such is the amazing journey children take through books. These stories are a treasured part of childhood and they linger for a lifetime.

To captivate young readers, you must balance a youthful imagination with an adult professionalism. Here you will learn about the various types of children’s books and their special requirements, as well as fiction craft and how to market your work.

Whatever type of children’s book you seek to write—picture books, easy readers, chapter books, middle grade, young adult—we’ll show you how to write stories that entrance.

About Children’s Book Writing

Effective and helpful like you can't imagine.

Cristine Richmond

theatrical/tv wardrobe asst.

Notes

Our Children’s Book courses cover the full spectrum of children’s books, from picture books to YA novels. Many children’s books authors write books for various age levels. The focus is mostly on fiction, but writers are welcome to work on nonfiction children’s books.

If you want to work on a YA novel, you may do so in our Children’s Book courses, or in Fiction I or (at the advanced level) Novel II First Draft and Novel II Critique, or our genre courses: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery, Romance. The difference: In a Children’s Book course, you will be learning about and reading works for various age levels; in the other courses, you will be learning about and reading works for adults. This is fine because YA novels are very close to adult novels.

Upcoming Classes

Price

Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.

10-Week

Syllabus

This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of writing children’s books and gets you writing a book. Course components:
     Lectures
     Writing exercises
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Week 1 
Introduction to Children’s Books: The different categories of children’s books. Constants and variables in children’s books. Vocabulary, darkness, humor, series, anthropomorphism. Specific requirements of picture books. Where to find inspiration and ideas. The importance of craft.

Week 2 
Plot: Finding a major dramatic question. Shaping a picture book plot. Shaping a longer book plot. Pros and cons of outlining.

Week 3
Character: Where to find characters. Making characters dimensional through desire and contrasts. Creating character profiles. Showing vs. Telling. Methods for showing characters. Animal characters.

Week 4 
Point of View/Voice: Point of view defined. Exploration of the various types of point of view. Voice defined. Exploration of the various types of voice. Tips for finding your voice.

Week 5
Description: Using the senses. Specificity. Techniques for creativity. Finding the right words. Economy. Merging description with point of view.

Week 6
Dialogue: The importance of scene. Dialogue's illusion of reality. Quotation marks and tags. Stage directions. Summarized dialogue. Characterization through dialogue. Subtext.

Week 7
Setting/Fantasy: Creating setting through time, place, and weather. Description of setting. When setting is a major character. Fantasy logic and details. Finding a fresh fantasy world.

Week 8
Nonfiction: Pros of writing a nonfiction children's book. The spectrum of nonfiction. Shaping nonfiction into a story. Choosing a topic. Nonfiction book proposals.

Week 9
Theme/Revision: Theme defined. Types of theme. Weaving theme into a story. Exploration of the various stages of revision.

Week 10
The Business: Proper format for manuscripts. How to target publishing houses and agents. How to send your work out. Query letters.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.

Teachers

Erin Entrada Kelly
Erin Entrada Kelly

Erin Entrada Kelly is the author of the middle grade novels Hello Universe, winner of the Newbery Medal; We Dream of Space, a Newbery Honor book; Those Kids From Fawn Creek; Maybe, Maybe, Marisol Rainey; Surely, Surely, Marisol RaineyLalani of the Distant Sea;You Go First; The Land of Forgotten Girls; and Blackbird Fly (all HarperCollins). Her short stories have appeared in the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Tayo Special Issue, Adroit Journal, Danse Macabre, Every Day Fiction, and Boston Literary Magazine. She is a contributor to Library Journal and has been a writer and editor for Thrive Magazine, where she won awards for excellence in feature writing from the Louisiana Press Association and the Associated Press. She has taught for Rosemont College and Wallingford Swarthmore Community Classes. She holds a BA from McNeese State University and an MFA in Fiction from Rosemont College.

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Margaret Meacham
Margaret Meacham

Margaret Meacham has published many books for children, including the middle grade novels Oyster Moon, The Secret of Heron Creek (both Tidewater), A Mid-Semester Night's Dream (Scholastic),Quiet! You're Invisible, A Fairy's Guide to Understanding Humans (both Holiday House), and The Ghosts of Laurelford  (Sunbury). She is also the author of the adult mystery novel The Survival of Sarah Landing  (Sunbury). Her articles and short stories have appeared in Library Journal, Country Magazine, Successful Student Magazine, Maryland Magazine, Highlights for Children, Baltimore Magazine, and the Baltimore Sun. She has taught at Goucher College and Towson University. She holds a BA from Trinity College and an MLIS from the University of Maryland.

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