Creating Nonfiction Picture Books for Children in a Changing World 2020

November 8 - 11, 2020

Join Us To:

Study the craft of creating picture books that resonate with the real world of today’s children. Learn how to find the stories of people and events that have changed, or will change the world. Learn the process of writing and researching nonfiction picture books and picture book biographies. Hear presentations and do hands-on activities to strengthen your manuscript. Have a one-to-one critique with a faculty mentor. Enjoy writing or revision time. Hear from an editor about the nonfiction picture book market.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Explore the types of stories that kids need in this changing world.
  • Hear faculty presentations on writing picture book biographies and nonfiction picture books.
  • Complete hands-on activities to develop the true story that is calling to you.
  • Learn how to find stories about real people and how to do the research for your book.
  • Learn how to find the storyline through your research.
  • Have a one-to-one faculty critique of your manuscript.
  • Enjoy time for writing or revising.
  • Examine the publishers and markets for picture book biographies and nonfiction picture books.

Attend If:

  • You are working on a biography for kids. Our faculty wants to help you create the best biography for our children.
  • You are working on an environmental or humanitarian themed story. We will help you find the narrative in nonfiction topics to create emotionally impactful stories for children.
  • You are a picture book author eager to expand your work into nonfiction. Our faculty is well versed in many areas of nonfiction picture books, and is here to help.
  • You are an author/illustrator or an author & illustrator team. Learn from nonfiction author/illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton about her own projects, and those in collaboration with Cynthia Levinson.
  • You love nonfiction and are eager to write TRUE stories. This workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of nonfiction picture books.
  • You have an in-progress or finished manuscript and would benefit from expert feedback. Meetings with your faculty mentor give you time to ask questions, get suggestions for revision and get support for your goals.
  • You have ideas about this changing world that you want to share with children. The powerful stories we share at this workshop are meant to inspire, uplift, and ignite us all.


Day 1
Arrival and check in

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Introductions and Welcome
The Stories WE Need in this Changing World

Day 2
Optional yoga
Faculty presentation: Nonfiction Picture Books as Mentors
Hands-on session

Faculty presentation: Digging Deep: Writing Picture Book Biographies
One-to-one mentoring
Retreat time for revision or generative writing/illustrating

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Fireside Chat

Day 3
Faculty presentation: Digging Deep: Doing the Search and Research
Hands-on session

The Nonfiction Picture Book Market with editor Kandace Coston
One-to-ones, editorial consultations, and/or retreat time for revision or generative writing/illustrating

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Open Mic Readings

Day 4
Faculty session: Finding YOUR Story to Tell
Nonfiction Picture Book Panel with all faculty
Final Q&A session

Lunch and farewells


True Storytelling: Writing Picture Book Biographies & Narrative Nonfiction
Interview with editor Kandace Coston on Literaticast
Picture Book Word Count, and Other Rules that are Meant to Be Broken
Birthdayographies, where Donna Janell Bowman celebrates over 700 (so far!) picture book biographies
Get It Right With Research
10 Things to Consider When Writing a Picture Book Biography


“The staff at Highlights is what consistently continues to impress me. They go above and beyond in everything they do. When I’m there, I don’t have to worry about anything but learning, nurturing my creativity, and writing.”

“The faculty/conferee ratio and the availability of the faculty are two of the best and unique features of these small workshops.”

Scholarships Available

Scholarships are available for this workshop from the Essential Conversations fund:
Application deadline is August 20, 2020. Scholarships will be announced September 19, 2020.
Click here to apply!
For more information about scholarships, click here.


Traci Sorell

Traci Sorell writes fiction and nonfiction books as well as poems for children. Her debut nonfiction picture book, We Are…
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Cynthia Levinson

Cynthia Levinson is an author and presenter who writes nonfiction books and articles for and about young people, conducts writing…
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Vanessa Brantley Newton

Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter who studied fashion illustration at FIT and children’s book illustration…
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Mitali Perkins

Special Guest Mitali Perkins has written many novels for young readers, including Rickshaw Girl (chosen by the New York Public Library as…
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Kandace Coston

Special Guest Kandace Coston is the editorial assistant at Lee & Low Books, an independent children’s book publisher focusing on…
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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.

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workshop information

Begins with dinner on Sunday, November 8, with dinner; ends Wednesday, November 11, with lunch.