Writing the Rainbow: Crafting Picture Books With LGBTQIA+ Themes 2019

October 27 - 30, 2019


Picture books bring the world into the hands of young readers. The world we would like them to see (and in which we would like to exist) celebrates all of us as individuals, families, and communities. In many ways we are different, and in many ways we are alike. Our diversity is our beauty and our strength.

Picture books that feature LGBTQIA+ topics, heroes, characters, families, and experiences can be a source of comfort to many children as well as a chance to promote respect, acceptance, and the celebration of diversity. Join workshop leaders Lesléa Newman and Rob Sanders, along with special guests, for an immersive experience in creating LGBTQIA+ themed fiction and nonfiction picture books for today’s market.

What You’ll Learn

  • Understand the needs of the diverse LGBTQIA+ community
  • Discover the importance of mirrors and windows in children’s books
  • Analyze current and historical picture books with LGBTQIA+ themes and topics
  • Identify topics that need to be addressed in LGBTQIA+ themed picture books
  • Explore tools of storytelling for both fiction and nonfiction picture books
  • Examine how to turn story ideas into books that children will love
  • Learn tools for revision
  • Hear from an editor about the submission process and LGBTQIA+ needs in the market
  • Receive critique on a full picture book manuscript

Who Should Attend

This workshop is open to all writers and illustrators of all levels.


Day 1
Arrival and check in

Appetizers and dinner
After dinner: Introductions
The Possibilities Are Endless: One Topic, Many Stories, Lesléa and Rob
Hot Chocolate and Chit-chat

Day 2
Read-Aloud Mentor Text, Rob
Writing Activity #1, Lesléa
Sharing and Celebration
Finding and Telling Untold Stories, Rob

One-on-ones and free writing time
Special Guest Session TBA

Appetizers & dinner
After dinner: Book Chat
Each participant with bring a favorite LGBTQIA+ themed book to share.
The session will end with Lesléa reading a “bedtime story”

Day 3
Read Aloud Mentor Text, Lesléa
Q&A Session with Agent Rubin Pfeffer
Sharing and Celebration
Dump Trucks, Dresses, and Dolls, Oh, My: Smashing Gender Stereotypes in Children’s Literature, Lesléa

One-on-ones or revision and free writing time
Writing Activity #2, Rob
Book signing

Appetizers & dinner
After dinner: Open Mic Readings
The session will end with Rob reading a “bedtime” story.

Day 4
Hands-on Session: Small but Mighty: Verbs, Nouns, POV, Perspective, and Tense, Rob
Hands-on Session: Exercises in Style: 99 Ways to Tell Your Story, Lesléa
Where to Go from Here: Resources to Guide You on Your Journey
Questions and Closing Remarks

Lunch and farewells


Bringing Allyship to Your Work in Children’s Literature
Lesléa Newman’s websites: and
Rob Sanders’ website:
The Gay History of America’s Classic Children’s Books (just for fun!)
Trans kids’ book Julian is a Mermaid is winning hearts and awards
Watch a Lee & Low Books webinar: LGBTQ+ Children’s Books: A Conversation with Authors and download their list of books and resources.
More LGBTQIA+ Picture Books: Why?
Writing the Rainbow: Rob Sanders and Lesléa Newman Talk About LGBTQIA+ Picture Books


Lesléa Newman

Lesléa Newman is the author of 75 books for readers of all ages including the children’s classic, Heather Has Two…
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Rob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. He is known for his funny and fierce…
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medina (they/them) is a nonbinary queer transracial Honduran adoptee with Cerebral Palsy who lives in NYC. Their work has appeared…
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Rubin Pfeffer

Special Guest Rubin Pfeffer is a veteran of the children’s and adult trade industry. He has served as President and…
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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 Sunday, October 27; ends on Wednesday, October 30, with lunch.