Essential Coversations at the Highlights Foundation

Our goal is to provide spaces both online and in person for children’s literature changemakers and innovators to lead—with the support and resources of the Highlights Foundation.

Children’s Literature is a Change Agent.

When children are centered in the pages of a book, equity is amplified. When children expand their experiences through the pages of a book, access is amplified.

Children’s books that reflect the richness of the human experience through diversity, inclusion, and access are catalysts for change.   




In-Community and Professional Development Opportunities

To amplify the need and call for more diverse, inclusive, and accessible books, the Highlights Foundation developed Essential Conversations programming.

Our goal is to provide online and in-person spaces for children’s literature changemakers and innovators to lead—with resources and support.

Our action comes through craft, education, and community-building for creatives and professionals in and around the children’s book industry.

  • In-community opportunities offer reserved and respected spaces for affinity and connected care, growth, and collaboration.
  • Professional development opportunities are open to all, to gather and do the work in our children’s book community.


Workshops & Retreats

Since 2016, we’ve held Essential Conversations workshops on our campus in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and online.  Here are some examples.

In-Community Experiences:

  • Latinx Voices Retreat
  • Writing the Rainbow
  • Writing About Mental Health
  • Amplify Black Stories
  • Black Creators Retreat
  • Jewish Symposium
  • Asian-American Retreat
  • Muslim Storytellers Fellowship
  • Native Creators’ Retreat
  • Writing Stories to Empower Through Trauma: A Workshop in Memory of Rebecca Dykes

Professional Development Experiences:

  • Disrupting Youth Literature
  • Responsible Representation in Children’s Books
  • Writing from the Outside In
  • Viewing Children’s Books Through an Intersectional Lens
  • Anti-Racist Writing Workshop Training
  • Cultural Competency
  • Empowering Readers and Reader Choice

Each year, we commit to greater representation in our Essential Conversations programming. We seek collaboration in both the leadership and voice of the programs, and financial commitments to support creatives as they attend and lead this important work.  

Please note: Essential Conversations at the Highlights Foundation respond to changing messaging and evolving language. We remain flexible about additional programs and stay open to new conversations that surface in the industry.

Will You Join Us?

Donors, partners, and sponsors help the Highlights Foundation fund our Essential Conversations programming, and bring access to more children’s authors and illustrators across the globe.

Support Essential Conversations at the Highlights Foundation Via a Donation

Support Select Essential Conversations at the Highlights Foundation Via Program Sponsorship

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.