Choosing Your 2020 Picture Book Workshop at the Highlights Foundation

This year, we’re hosting a series of free webinars: FINDING THE RIGHT WORKSHOP FOR YOUR 2020 WRITING GOALS. This week, Program Director Alison Green Myers will talk about our 2020 workshops for picture book authors and author/illustrators. We have 25 possible workshops for our picture book-crafting friends!

All of our picture book workshops, online and in-person, are craft-focused, staffed with caring and knowledgeable faculty, and take place in a supportive environment. How do you select which of these workshops will be best for your 2020 picture book goals? Start by thinking of your answers to these questions:

  • Where are you on your journey as a picture book author or author/illustrator, and where are you within your project(s)?
  • Are you writing a specific type of picture book? Do you write nonfiction picture books? Concept books? Poetry? Humorous books? Science books? Or a little bit of everything?
  • How much feedback are you ready to receive? How do you take critique? Do you want time to work on revisions while you still have time to meet with your reviewer? Would too much feedback at this point in your process halt your momentum to finish a draft?

Watch the Webinar
There’s also a transcript below.

Workshops for Author/Illustrators
Perhaps you are moving from identifying as an author first, toward learning about illustration; or you are an artist, trying to firm up your work with words as an author. Either way, we have something for you. At a beginners level, we have a new online course called Becoming an Author Illustrator. This 10-unit online course with Courtney Pippin-Mathur introduces author/illustrators to story construction, character consistency, and making a dummy.

For those author/illustrators who want to know more about writing, our Writing for Illustrators course is back by popular demand. This course centers on your life as an illustrator, and provides strategies needed to refine your writing style.

More on the illustration side of story, but still with opportunities to talk about narrative work, are our Summer Camp Intensive in Illustration, our Master Class in Illustration: Narrative Picture Making, and our Color, Light, Line and Texture Hands-On Workshop. All three have hands-on art sessions, with rich discussions about the children’s book industry, and advice for working as an author/illustrator. If you are interested in our full listing of illustrator workshops, tune in January 31 for a webinar dedicated to all illustration, all the time!

Broad Scope Picture Book Workshops
A number of our workshops cover the broad topic of picture books with time dedicated to art, design, and layout, as well as craft. You can’t talk about writing a picture book without thinking about the role that pictures play. So those ideas will be embedded in every picture book workshop. These workshops also touch on various structures and genres.

PB&J: Picture Books and All that Jazz, as well as The Ins and Outs of a Picture Book & Its Many Forms, are two courses that cover every corner of picture book writing. Both are well-suited for beginning writers, and also for those intermediate writers who are ready to learn more about the picture book genre. Both provide a study in the art of picture book writing, layout, pacing, page turns, and more. Both can provide feedback for you on a specific project, or more general feedback as you build your career.

For those who want an even broader view, perhaps our Summer Camp in Writing Fiction for Children & Teens is for you? This weeklong intensive in fiction features a number of celebrated writers and poets. Summer Camp offers you daily mentorship on your picture book (or books), as well as inspirational keynotes and craft-focused breakout sessions like “The Poet as a Picture Book Writer”, or “Ten Tips to bring Mischief into Your Picture Book Manuscript”, to name a few.

Picture Books: Inspiration and Perspiration with Debbie Ridpath Ohi and Heidi Stemple. This retreat asks the question: What does the creator of a picture book need in order to thrive? Play! And poetry! And observation! And, writing–of course…and sharing, and imagination. Sounds a little like what the picture book readers need, too. Debbie and Heidi produce very different kinds of picture books, so attendees will get a taste of everything here: fiction, illustration, poetry, and nonfiction.

Nonfiction Picture Book Workshops
We have several nonfiction workshops with a picture book focus. New this year with Traci Sorell, Cynthia Levinson, Vanessa Brantley Newton, Mitali Perkins, and editor Kandace Coston, is Creating Nonfiction Picture Books for Children in a Changing World. This course covers writing and researching nonfiction stories about the people, places, and events that have changed (or will change) the world.

Another workshop that will cover writing and research (for all nonfiction, not just for nonfiction picture books) is our Summer Camp in Writing Nonfiction for Children & Teens. That’s right: all the s’mores, hiking, and ice cream of our other Summer Camp courses, but this one is specific to those wishing to write about the facts! On this year’s nonfiction faculty, you will get to learn from Don Tate, Lesa Cline Ransome, Heidi Stemple, Dana Rau, Rob Sanders, and special guests Yvonne Dennis and editor Daniel Nayeri–each one well-versed in writing nonfiction for young readers. Like our other Summer Camp programs, you will enjoy daily mentorship on your projects, inspirational keynotes, and hands-on sessions.

Our very popular Science and Nature Writing for Kids & Teens workshop has been revamped for 2020 and includes an examination of science-inspired fiction, narrative nonfiction, concept books, picture books, the educational market, articles, and everything in between.

Specialized Picture Book Workshops, Including Poetry
Creating Picture Books With Humor & Heart: A Working Retreat lays the groundwork for a successful picture book with lectures on story arc, finding a hook, and voice; but spends extra time and attention on how to craft a character and arc that will resonate emotionally with children–whether that be through humor, heart, or, most likely, both.

Other specialty workshops include our new workshop on creating How to Create Concept Books for Children with Salina Yoon, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Denise Fleming, and creative director Patti Ann Harris. These experts will help you turn your limited-language story with a cool theme into concept book form.

Our poetry year begins with Poetry Intensive for Published Writers: Find Your Muse in the Woods. The focus at this course won’t be a picture book project, but on beefing up your inner poetry MUSE–that “well” we all need to go to, in order to find the language and emotion in our work. This workshop will help you find ways to grow your craft, sharpen your voice, and expand your poetic and creative boundaries.

We also have Power-Up Poetry: Making Connections with Poetry Collections, which explores creating a poetry collection as well as performing and presenting poetry to educators. The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children returns, where you will not only learn about the natural fit between poetry and picture books but also about how poetic devices can help create readability in picture books.

We will also repeat our online workshop with Diana Murray this year: Getting to Know Your Rhyming Picture Books. This course has been redesigned, and will offer participants a chance to share and refine their love of RHYME when writing picture books.

Picture Book Workshops to Build Your Industry Knowledge
This set of workshops covers more than the craft of writing picture books; they open the conversation up to the state of the industry today.

Crash Course in Children’s Publishing: Everything You Need to Know has been newly remodeled as an online offering. This 10-unit course covers the many genres and markets of children’s publishing, as well as how to write, revise, submit, and publish books.

As part of our Essential Conversations series, meaning those industry-needed, rich conversations for children’s book professionals, we’re offering our Disrupting Youth Literature Symposium, an interactive workshop with dialogue, analysis, and personal reflections that will bring together writers, teachers, librarians, editors, agents, and more for an in-depth look at how we can better serve our readers. Another Essential Conversations offering is LatinX Writers: A Working Symposium, where the faculty will cover picture books, nonfiction, and novels with rich conversations about identity, community, and craft.

For those published picture book authors or author/illustrators seeking a community retreat with other professionals, you can attend Gather: A Community Retreat for Published Authors and Illustrators. This five-day workshop is part inspiration, part-retreat, with two-hour morning lectures and hands-on sessions, and afternoons dedicated to your own writing. Picture book authors at this year’s event include Meg Medina, Jennifer Jacobson, picture book author/illustrator Mike Curato, and poet Carole Boston Weatherford, as well as editor Emily Feinberg and art director Ellice Lee.

Finally, we have two craft-heavy revision workshops for picture book authors to consider. In both you will meet with editors and authors and apply craft and industry knowledge to focus on your project. The first is Filling the Writer’s Toolbox with editor Emma Dryden and her special guests. This fantastic workshop focuses each morning on one vein of story while afternoons are spent in critique, or in conversation, or revising, and attention is given to the state of the market.

In addition we have our Revision Retreat Online Course Plus Onsite Retreat, which for the first time in its long history with the Highlights Foundation will take place both online and in person. Broken into 4-parts, this intense revision workshop not only offers strategies for revision, but time on campus to get your revisions done. This workshop builds up your knowledge on how to give and receive critique–such a needed skill for all writing professionals.

Need more help to choose?
If you’re still undecided, you can visit our Upcoming Workshops for detailed descriptions, faculty bios, and information about our extensive scholarship program. Our website has a new filtering feature where you can filter by genre, subject, career level and more.

You can also contact one of our Ambassadors to get individual help in finding your perfect workshop: Cat Galeano, Rona Shirdan, Alex Villasante, or program assistant Jo Lloyd. They will work with you one-to-one to find the perfect course for you to help accomplish your 2020 writing goals. What’s more, they can assist with information about the Highlights Foundation experience, and with details about our scholarship program.

One last thing: if you register for a workshop before February 1, use code BUCKETLIST to get $100 off!

Download a pdf outlining the 2020 picture book workshop choices.


Posted on: January 17, 2020