Programs

  • $499.00 – Program Price
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Online Summer Camp in Nonfiction: Explore, Dig Deep, Inspire

With Don Tate, Rob Sanders, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Carole Boston Weatherford, Dana Meachen Rau, Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, Rona Shirdan, Alexandra Villasante and Alison Green Myers

July 12 - 15, 2021

TYPE & LENGTH:

A four day, online intensive (Monday, July 12 through Thursday, July 15) centered on mentorship, inspiration, and community with:

  • opportunities for learning, feedback, and interaction (detailed agenda below)
  • ample self-paced time to make progress on a project, or play with your creativity

PARTICIPANT CAP:

35

WHY THIS WORKSHOP?

Dedicate four days to our Online Summer Camp in Nonfiction for inspiration, guidance, mentorship, community, creativity, and growth.

Guidance and mentorship will be offered in two ways, both through our faculty readers and in your facilitated peer group. We believe that the best feedback on your work is the kind that offers questions to help you problem-solve, brainstorm new ideas, and work through challenges. Our written feedback keeps this in mind, as does our facilitated peer groups, which also offer you the chance to process your revision goals and make priorities.

You will:

  • Hear inspirational and educational keynotes by our faculty. These will refresh your passion for the craft of writing nonfiction for children and teens, and motivate you to keep going.
  • Work one-to-one with faculty on a project of your choice. Faculty reader/attendee pairings will be made thoughtfully according to your work and your goals. Picture book writers will work through one full manuscript; writers of longer nonfiction will have an opportunity to share up to 2,500 words. Both picture book authors and those writing longer nonfiction will be able to review feedback and consult with faculty readers in the workshop’s first 1:1 meetings, and then informally share revisions made during the workshop (if any) at the second 1:1 meeting.
  • Participate in small group feedback sessions with a respectfully gathered group of fellow writers. This small group style is designed to help you lead a discussion of your work and needs in community with other writers, with the help of a facilitator. Picture book writers can share the same project they are using with their faculty reader, or a new project. Writers of longer nonfiction can share the same sample from the same project, or another sample from the same project, or a new project sample of 2,500 words.
  • Participate in breakout sessions focused on research tips, nonfiction forms and structures, evaluating primary source material, and more.
  • Attend open, interactive Office Hours for themed informal talks in small groups with a focus on your needs and questions that have come up throughout the program.
  • Explore factual writing through a range of topics, including nonfiction voice, biography, memoir, nature writing, science writing, and narrative nonfiction.
  • Receive guidance on how to submit nonfiction manuscripts to the book and magazine publishers who want to see them.

IT’S A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You love nonfiction and are eager to write TRUE stories. This workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to the world of nonfiction children’s books.
  • You are working on a biography for kids or teens. Our faculty is well-versed in researching and writing about people. They’ll help you find out how to make your biography the best it can be.
  • You are working on a nature or science-themed book for kids or teens. Study with our nature-loving faculty and let them help you craft an engaging book for kids.
  • You have an in-progress or finished manuscript and would like feedback. Your faculty reader will give you feedback, answer questions, and support you in setting goals. Your peer group can help you consider your revision goals and plans.
  • You need a jolt of creativity or a reminder of purpose. Summer Camp can be about getting work done if you want it to be, but it can also be about renewing your spark and purpose in writing nonfiction for kids and teens.
  • You think you might have something to submit to the educational market. Our faculty has experience with educational packagers as well as the magazine market.

COMMITMENT REQUIRED FOR THE BEST EXPERIENCE:

  • This intensive is best if you attend and engage in all the live sessions. Participants are encouraged to leave open/schedule blocks of time for themselves to work on projects and reflections throughout.
  • On days 2, 3, and 4 you will choose a live breakout session to attend. You won’t miss the other sessions because, all breakouts will be recorded and you’ll be able to view them in the online classroom which you will have access to for 30 days following the close of Camp.
  • If you can’t attend live, lectures and writing prompts will also be recorded each day and placed in the virtual classroom to watch (or re-watch) for up to 30 days after the close of Camp.
  • Those writing longer nonfiction will submit the first 2, 500 words from a current work in progress, or a book proposal with a short writing sample, at least 3 weeks prior to the start of Camp for faculty critique. This submission should also contain a cover letter. (After registration, you will receive comprehensive submission details.)
  • Picture book writers should submit one full picture book manuscript up to 1,200 words with a cover letter at least 3 weeks prior to Camp for faculty critique. (After registration, you will receive comprehensive submission details.)
  • In addition to submitting to your faculty reader, you will submit pages for your peer groups. These submissions can be from the same work-in-progress as given to your faculty reader, or a new project. (After registration, you will receive comprehensive submission details for your peer groups.)
  • After online Summer Camp, you could choose to come to campus on a personal writing retreat to explore your feedback and make progress on your project with other attendees who choose to do the same. Dates will be announced as they become available.

AGENDA:

By June 21: Submission of project(s) for faculty reader and peer group. (See details above.)

Week of July 4:
Virtual classroom opens with pre-conference materials and opportunities to connect with fellow writers. You will also meet via Zoom with your peer small group and facilitator to discuss:

  • Questions and what to expect
  • Information and guidelines for participating in our version of small group feedback/critique sessions

Intensive Day One: Monday, July 12 (Approximately 2.5 hours of programming.)
Throughout the day:

  • 1:1s via Zoom with your Faculty Reader (scheduled at mutually convenient times)

Evening: Formal Kickoff via Zoom

  • Welcome
  • Introductions
  • Opening Lecture
  • Breakout into small groups after to check in and ask questions

Intensive Day Two: Tuesday July 13 (Approximately 5.5 hours of programming; additional time may be spent writing/revising/revisiting.)
Throughout the day:

  • 10am: Optional coffee chat
  • 11am: Optional writing prompt
  • 12pm: Small group feedback/critique sessions and check-in via Zoom
  • 4pm: Hands-on Breakout Sessions available via Zoom (you choose the topic/time to attend; all will be recorded and made available in the classroom)
  • 5:30pm: Informal Office Hours via Zoom to connect in small groups, ask questions, and explore topics informally

Evening:

  • 6:30pm: Lecture via Zoom, followed by Q & A

Intensive Day Three: Wednesday July 14 (Approximately 5.5 hours of programming; additional time may be spent writing/revising/revisiting.)
Throughout the day:

  • 10am: Optional coffee chat
  • 11am: Optional writing prompt
  • 12pm: Small group feedback/critique sessions and check-in via Zoom
  • 2pm: Lecture via Zoom, followed by Q & A
  • 4pm: Hands-on Breakout Sessions available via Zoom (you choose the topic/time to attend; all will be recorded and made available in the classroom)
  • 5:30pm: Informal Office Hours via Zoom to connect in small groups, ask questions, and explore topics informally

Evening:

  • 6:30pm: Lecture via Zoom, followed by Q & A

Intensive Day Four: Thursday July 15 (Approximately 4 hours of programming; additional time may be spent writing/revising/revisiting.)
Throughout the day:
1:1s via Zoom with your Faculty Reader to revisit and discuss the progress and/or reflections you’ve made (scheduled at mutually convenient times)

  • 10am: Optional coffee chat
  • 11am: Optional writing prompt
  • 12pm: Optional peer meetings (no groups)
  • 2pm: Hands-on Breakout Sessions available via Zoom (you choose the topic/time to attend; all will be recorded and made available in the classroom)
  • 5:30pm: Informal Office Hours via Zoom to connect in small groups, ask questions, and explore topics informally

Evening:

  • 6:30pm: Closing Lecture via Zoom
  • 7:30 pm: Final panel: Find Your Voice and Keep Going!

Note: Hands-On Breakout topics and Lecture themes are still being developed by faculty. Past Summer Camp Nonfiction session topics have included:

  • Back Matter Matters
  • Voice, Viewpoint & Verbs
  • Life Sentences: Crafting Stories from Real Life
  • Finding the WHY in Research
  • Narrative Structure and Rhythm in Nonfiction
  • Writing Inspiration: Using Mentor Texts
  • The Art of Biography, Short Form and Long
  • The Extreme Sport of Research
  • The Art and Craft of Narrative Nonfiction
  • Mining Personal Experiences to Enliven Nonfiction
  • World Building in History

Note: Later in the summer/fall we will announce personal writing retreat dates at our Retreat Center that are opened first to attendees of our online Summer Camps. That could be an ideal time to make progress on your projects and spend time in community with fellow attendees in person. Dates will be announced as they become available.

HOW THIS PROGRAM IMPACTS KIDS:

Kids love reading about real people and events! This workshop will show you ways to put together accurate research and use storytelling tools to create compelling nonfiction. Get support, motivation, reassurance, and sense of community from fellow creators who share your passion.

HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION RESOURCES AND FAQS FOR WORKSHOPS:

RELATED RESOURCES:

12 signs that you are destined to write middle grade nonfiction
Theme in Narrative Nonfiction
STEAMing Into Nonfiction
3 Diversity Fellows Talk About Summer Camp Mentorship
Seven Ways to Make Your Nonfiction Stand Out
The hard-but-satisfying work of creative nonfiction
True Storytelling

FROM OUR COMMUNITY:

“My interactions with my faculty mentor were positive and helpful! Heidi had thoughtful suggestions and was encouraging about my project.”

“I was matched with just the right mentor for me. Her background and passions matched mine, and she helped me see possibilities that I hadn’t been able to see on my own.”

“The faculty were not only very knowledgeable but warm and generous. Very high-quality faculty! My mentor was really helpful and encouraging and helped me to see approaches for my idea that I couldn’t have seen myself.”

“Everyone at Highlights went out of their way to make sure the online format worked. As my students would say: Highlights rocks.”

“You did an amazing job creating a sense of community virtually.”

“The faculty were engaged, generous with their time and wisdom, and human. It was really refreshing/important that many of them not only presented but also participated in various parts of the camp; that sent a great “we are all learning, all journeying together” message. Also wonderful that you had such a diversity of faculty in terms of race, nationality, gender, orientation, and expertise/place in the world of children’s books.”

Leaders

Don Tate
Don Tate is an award-winning author, and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children, including Carter Reads The Newspaper (Peachtree…
Learn more about Don Tate
Rob Sanders
Rob Sanders is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. He is known for his funny and fierce…
Learn more about Rob Sanders
Heidi E. Y. Stemple
Heidi didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became…
Learn more about Heidi E. Y. Stemple
Carole Boston Weatherford
Carole Boston Weatherford is an award-winning author of children’s books, including Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White…
Learn more about Carole Boston Weatherford
Dana Meachen Rau
Dana Meachen Rau has written more than 350 books for children in a variety of genres—early readers, picture-books, historical fiction,…
Learn more about Dana Meachen Rau
Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan
Special Guest Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan is an author and teacher from Pittsburgh, PA. She loves exploring history and science and has…
Learn more about Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan
Rona Shirdan
Special Guest Rona Shirdan is living her best life as a writer, freelance copy editor, and proofreader. She is the…
Learn more about Rona Shirdan
Alexandra Villasante
Special Guest Alexandra Villasante has always loved telling stories–though not always with words. She has a BFA in Painting and…
Learn more about Alexandra Villasante
Alison Green Myers
Special Guest Alison Green Myers is the program director for the non-profit Highlights Foundation, which supports children’s book writers and…
Learn more about Alison Green Myers