Telling It True: The Art of Storytelling in Narrative Nonfiction 2020

March 28 - 31, 2020

Join Us To:

Engage children in the lives of others through captivating events and compelling narrative threads. Learn how to carve a storyline through your research that will fascinate and be accurate. Use the tools of the fiction writer to build character, explore theme, and shape a gripping informational story. Submit a chapter of your work-in-progress and get one-to-one feedback from faculty. Study the market for narrative nonfiction with authors and editors working in the field.

What You’ll Learn:

Unfamiliar names may not hook your readers, but a well-told true story can inspire, delight, teach, and enthrall. It’s an exciting time for nonfiction in the children’s book world. Teachers are craving more of it. Authors are experimenting with structure and story-telling technique. And kids are realizing that nonfiction can read with the same page-turning momentum as great fiction. The process starts with the idea and research–lots of it. From there, the art of storytelling takes over. You will:

  • Hear faculty and guest lectures on craft and markets.
  • Complete hands-on exercises to practice using the tools of the fiction writer to build character, explore theme, and shape a gripping story.
  • Learn how to take your mountain of research and carve a storyline through it that will enthrall kids and be faithful to the sources.
  • Find out how to weave exposition seamlessly into narrative.
  • Meet with faculty for a one-to-one critique of a chapter of your work-in-progress.
  • Have free writing time to create or revise.
  • Network with faculty, peers and special guests.
  • Attend live and SKYPE Q&A’s with industry professionals.

Attend If:

    • You want to stretch! If you’re a short-form nonfiction writer, we’ll help you investigate what it takes to go long-form and weave exposition into narrative.
    • You’re a fiction writer with an idea for a true story. Narrative nonfiction is all about using the tools of the fiction writer to tell gripping true stories. This course gives you a head start!
    • You LOVE to do research–but you don’t know when to stop. Our faculty are experts at taking research and carving a storyline through it. Lectures and hands-on exercises will let you give it a try.


Our workshops typically include faculty presentations, hands-on exercises, specialty topic sessions, some level of feedback, and retreat time for working on your own projects. Although we don’t have a finished agenda for this course yet, see a sample agenda here to get an idea of what to expect.


True Storytelling: Tod Olson and Leda Schubert in Conversation
12 Signs That You Are Destined to Write Middle Grade Nonfiction
Theme in Narrative Nonfiction
7 Ways to Make Your Nonfiction Stand Out


“I’ve been to many conferences and workshops and I teach a workshop every summer but coming to a Highlights workshop has been on my bucket list for years. It even exceeded my high expectations. Hard to put into words but the whole experience was magical. Being in a nurturing bubble, totally immersed in writing was amazing. No newspapers, no TV, no laundry to do or meals to cook, just writing. And learning from amazing mentors. And talking about writing. And writing some more… Bliss.”

Scholarships Available

Three scholarships are available for this workshop from the James Cross Giblin fund:
Full tuition
Half tuition
Partial tuition
Application deadline is January 8, 2020. Scholarships will be announced February 7, 2020.
Click here to apply!
For more information about scholarships, click here.


Tod Olson

Tod Olson is author of the forthcoming Into the Clouds: The Race to Climb the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain (April…
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Steve Sheinkin

Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny,…
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Paula Yoo

Special Guest Paula Yoo is a children’s book author and TV writer/producer. Her latest YA non-fiction book about Vincent Chin,…
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Connie Hsu

Special Guest Connie Hsu is an executive editor at Roaring Brook Press at Macmillan Publishing and a member of the…
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All-Inclusive Event Cost: $1,099.00

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Free shuttle service is available from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AVP) International Airport. Airport pick-up at Newark Airport is also available for $75 round-trip.

We offer payment plans as low as $75/month. We'll be in touch with details after you register.

workshop information

Begins on Saturday, March 28, with dinner and ends on Tuesday, March 31, with lunch.