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

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
Children’s Book Writing I

I entered this course having no idea how to write a children's book, or what was involved with the process. This class gave me the knowledge I was looking for, and pointed me in the right direction.

Kelley Diekman

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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

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details

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

Caela Carter
Caela Carter

Caela Carter is the author of the middle-grade novels Fifty-Four Things Wrong With Gwendolyn Rogers, How to Be a Girl in the World, One Speck of Truth, Forever or a Long, Long Time, My Life with the Liars, (all Quill Tree Books/Harper Collins), and Tumbling (Viking), and the young adult novels My Best Friend, Maybe and Me, Him, Them, and It (both Bloomsbury USA Children’s). She worked as a school librarian for the Harlem Village Academy, and has taught for the Chicago Jesuit Academy and Boys Hope Girls Hope in New York City. She holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame, an MA in Education from the University of Notre Dame, and an MFA in Children’s Literature from the New School.

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Erik Kraft
Erik Kraft

Erik Kraft is the author of the chapter book series Lenny and Mel (Simon & Schuster), the picture book Chocolatina (Bridgewater Books), and the middle grade novel Miracle Wimp (Little, Brown). He’s also the webmaster for the Littleton Cultural Council, founder of the former blog/podcast Too Many Chickens!, and illustrator for the former blog Cats in the Alley. He has taught at Columbia University and Grub Street Writers in Boston. He holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts, an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College, and an ALM in Dramatic Arts from the Harvard Extension School.

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