Writing for All Young Readers: Board Books through MG Series 2019

October 10 - 13, 2019


This workshop is for anyone looking for ways to break in or expand upon a career in writing for children, from board books to middle grade series.

Crystal Allen, Kelly Starling Lyons and Kristy Dempsey met at the Highlights Foundation’s Chautauqua Workshop over a decade ago. Their friendship was forged over works-in-progress, critiques, and the drive to publish great books for all children.

Fast forward to now, and between the three women, they have over 30 books published for readers of all ages. They’ve designed a workshop to share with you all that they have gathered over years of their journeys. This workshop is designed to help writers uncover the possibilities offered in the children’s book industry as well as discuss ways to make the most impact on children of all ages.

Highlights Foundation Program Director Alison Green Myers Gives a Preview of the Workshop:

What You’ll Learn

Study the industry:

  • Find out how to turn your passion and ideas into a career.
  • Hear from faculty about their publication journeys.
  • Explore ways to break into the industry.
  • Discover how to work in multiple genres and for varying ages.
  • Learn where to find work-for-hire opportunities.

Work on your craft:

  • Hear faculty lectures on plot, character, voice, language and more.
  • Have one-to-one mentor feedback on your manuscript.
  • Complete hands-on writing exercises.
  • Have opportunities for peer review of your manuscript.

Who Should Attend

This introductory course appeals to:

  • Anyone who is curious about what it takes to begin writing or illustrating books for children: you’ll get an in-depth look at genres and the marketplace as well as participate in craft exercises to get you started.
  • Pre-published or recently-published writers or illustrators who want to get direction about their publishing path.
  • Anyone who would benefit from faculty and peer feedback on their work.


Just addded: editor Q&A with Eileen Robinson!
Day 1
Arrival & check in

Appetizers & dinner
After dinner: Welcome and introductions
Turning Passion into a Career with Crystal, Kelly, Kristy

Day 2
Begin by Beginning –Ideas/First Lines, Crystal
Board Books and Picture Books, Kristy

Writing humor, Crystal
Non-Fiction and Historical Fiction, Kelly
One-to-one critiques and free writing time

Appetizers & dinner
After dinner: Fireside chat and s’mores

Day 3
Early Readers, Chapter Books and Middle Grade, Kelly & Crystal
Plot, Pacing and Paging, Kristy

Characters: Sweetie Pies and Smart*sses, Kristy
Voice, Emotion, and Language, Kristy and Kelly
One-to-one critiques and free writing time

Appetizers & dinner
After dinner: Fireside chat and book signing

Day 4
The Business of Publishing, Kelly
Q/A with all faculty
Goal setting and final remarks

Lunch and departures


Getting Started Writing Children’s Books
Investing in Your Writing
How to Write a Children’s Book: Get Started with These 5 Steps
7 Quick Tips for Beginning Writers
Writing Books for Kids is Hard, But You Can Totally Do It
Relax Into the Story
Investigate, Observe, Document, Evaluate: A Process to Write for Young Readers

About the Faculty & the Workshop
Faculty Interview: Kristy Dempsey, Crystal Allen, Gwendolyn Hooks, Kelly Starling Lyons
Faculty Interview: Kristy Dempsey and Kathryn Erskine
Kristy Dempsey – Taking a Leap


“I found the faculty to be open, accepting of questions, respectful, extremely knowledgeable, and able to share their knowledge in an engaging, forthright manner that was very helpful.”

“The faculty members were extremely knowledgeable, experienced, and personable. They presented so much information in a short amount of time! A very worthwhile conference.”

“I felt a sense of community and a genuine feeling that the faculty wanted everyone to be successful.”


Kelly Starling Lyons

Kelly Starling Lyons is a founding member of The Brown Bookshelf, teaching artist and award-winning children’s book author. Her mission…
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Crystal Allen

Crystal Allen is the author of five middle-grade books, all published by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.  Her accolades include the 2018…
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Eileen Robinson

Eileen Robinson has worked with children’s writers all over the world for over twenty years. Former Executive Editor at Scholastic…
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All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Free shuttle service is available from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AVP) International Airport.

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

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workshop information

Begins with dinner on Thursday, October 10; ends on Sunday, October 13, with lunch.

Our all-inclusive price means we provide transportation to and from the airport, lodging, all meals, unlimited snacks, and wireless Internet access.