Writing Science and Nature for Kids and Teens In-person Retreat and Workshop

August 5 - 9, 2021


  • 5 days, in-person at our Retreat Center with lectures, writing exercises, faculty consultations and feedback, with ample time to relax, retreat, and work on your own writing. (If you are looking for the ONLINE version of this course, please click here.)
  • Begins at 5:30pm Eastern on Thursday, August 5, 2021
  • Ends at 1:00pm Eastern on Monday, August 9, 2021




If you want to energize readers through active fiction and nonfiction writing about science and nature, this course will give you the tools and insights you need to advance on your path to success.

Lectures will help us examine forms and formats of science and nature, including science-inspired fiction, narrative nonfiction, expository nonfiction, concept books, poetry, and everything in between. We’ll also enjoy the outdoor possibilities at the Highlights Foundation retreat center to improve the depth of our writing and expand our observation skills.

You will:

  • Study the craft of writing powerful books and articles about science and nature for young readers.
  • Explore ideas: how to generate, evaluate, and shape them to engage and attract agents and editors.
  • Learn how to submit both fiction and nonfiction science and nature work to editors and agents.
  • Have 1:1 critiques from faculty mentors, plus additional opportunities for consultations.

For the critique: On or before July 20, you can submit work for review from faculty which includes one picture book manuscript, (up to 2,000 words, including backmatter), or up to 2,000 words from a longer project. If you are an author/illustrator, please submit your dummy (mocked-up picture book) as a PDF with sketches and words. If you do not have a work-in-progress, you may instead submit a proposal or a one-page summary of ideas that you would like to discuss. Additional, informal feedback is provided during open sharing times at the retreat.


  • You love science and our natural world and want to share your knowledge and passion with kids. This workshop will show you the dynamics of engaging fiction and nonfiction science and nature-based writing.
  • You want to write picture books, nonfiction, chapter books, or books for middle grade and young adult readers. This comprehensive review of the market for science and nature books will move you forward, no matter what age level your writing is aimed at.
  • You have several in-progress science or nature manuscripts and would appreciate multiple feedback perspectives. After your one-to-one critique with faculty, you’ll have fresh ideas for revision. And after hearing from acquiring editors about what they’re looking for, you’ll be well prepared to start submitting.
  • You are a published author or illustrator who wants to investigate the science and nature market. You’ll hear from authors and editors working in the field, and have a chance to submit to all participating editors.


Kids love reading about their world, and science that is out-of-this-world! This course will show you ways to make your science or nature book both engaging and informative.


You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers and illustrators, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources, and view submission details related to this course. (Though pre-workshop materials are in a virtual classroom, this is an in-person course. If you are looking for the ONLINE version of this course, please click here.)

Thursday, August 5, 2021
3-5pm Eastern
Arrival and check in

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Faculty welcome and introductions

Friday, August 6, 2021
Creative exercise: Writing with Miranda Paul
Outdoor Explore with Heather Montgomery

Form, Structure, and Genres of Science and Nature Books with Miranda Paul
One-to-ones with Miranda, Heather, or Angela AND independent writing time; or retreat to your private accommodations to relax and recharge; or get out and explore the 1300 acres of the retreat center trees, streams, and more!

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Fireside discussion, S’mores Science

Saturday, August 7, 2021
Creative exercise: Writing with Heather Montgomery
Up Close with Picture Books with Miranda Paul

Zoom lecture with Angela Dominguez on Elements of Eco-Fiction
All author panel with Miranda, Angela, and Heather
Extra consultations with Miranda, Heather, Angela

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Work for hire/Educational Market discussion
Outdoor Explore: Night Hike

Sunday, August 8, 2021
Research Round-up with Heather and Miranda
Revision at work with Miranda and Kathryn Williams

Revision roundtables
Independent writing time; or retreat to your private accommodations to relax and recharge; or get out and explore the 1300 acres of the retreat center trees, streams, and more!

Outdoor Explore: Stream Science

Appetizers & Dinner
After dinner: Open Mic

Monday, August 9, 2021
Submissions with Heather, Miranda, and Kathryn
Final Q&A

Lunch & farewells

FAQs About Highlights Foundation Workshops:


Science Writing…It’s Not Just for Nonfiction
Setting a Scene with a STEM Book
Making Science Fun (or Funny)
The Intersection of Science & Social Studies: Can Creative Combinations Enhance Your Writing?
STEAM-ing Into Nonfiction
3 Myths About Why Writing Science Books for Kids is Hard
Elements of Excellent Science Books


“All the faculty were fantastic! They were warm, fun, and knowledgeable. They all seemed to take a personal interest in helping us further our career and were always accessible.”

“It could not have been better, no way, no how. I was amazed and mesmerized and my brain almost exploded (in a good way)! Why did I wait so long? Glad I found out about these workshops!”

“Their willingness to critique participant manuscripts is invaluable. Miranda Paul was exceptional in her ability to not only point out flaws, but to help steer a writer toward re-envisioning a better product.


Miranda Paul

Miranda Paul is an award-winning children’s author of more than a dozen picture books including One Plastic Bag, Water is Water, I…
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Heather L. Montgomery

Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are wild about animals. An award-winning author and educator, Heather uses yuck appeal…
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Angela Dominguez

Virtual Special Guest Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and now…
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Kathryn Williams

Special Guest Kathryn Williams is an Associate Editor at National Geographic Kids Books.
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All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks..

Free shuttle is service available from the local airport, train, and bus station, or you can park on site. Get more logistics information here.

Pay in full or secure your spot with a deposit of $200 and payment plans as low as $75/month. We'll be in touch with details after you register.

Do you want help finding a workshop or resources that will fit your needs? Talk to one of our ambassadors.

workshop information

Begins on Thursday, August 5, with dinner and ends on Monday, August 9, with lunch.