PJ Library: Summer Camp for Writers and Illustrators of Jewish Picture Books

In-Person | Picture Books, Essential Conversations
A special, application-based program for writers and writer/illustrators of Jewish-themed picture books hosted by PJ Library. 

August 27, 2023 - August 31, 2023

Highlights Foundation Campus

Overview

PJ Library invites writers and writer/illustrators of Jewish-themed picture books to apply for our 2023 Picture Book Summer Camp for five days of inspiration, mentorship, fun, and creativity on the beautiful campus of the Highlights Foundation.

A majority of the spaces are reserved for emerging creatives (unpublished, or no more than one published picture book). Limited spaces are reserved for alumni from the 2022 PJ Library Picture Book Summer Camp.

  • This is an application based program. (Click “Apply Now” to apply.)
  • This is an in-person workshop at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center built to share ideas for stories with Jewish themes and content, along with experiences like keynotes, breakout sessions, mentorship, and ample time for independent writing, meeting informally with fellow creatives, and resting.
  • NEW! We will be offering a beit midrash (or Jewish study hall) where we will provide resources along with 1:1 meetings to delve deeper into Jewish ideas and storytelling.
  • Acceptance into the program covers tuition, lodging, and meals. Travel stipends to the retreat center will be available from PJ Library. ($500 for domestic travel, $1300 for international travel.)
  • Accepted storytellers will arrive by 5:30 pm Eastern on Sunday, August 27
  • Accepted storytellers will depart on Thursday, August 31 following lunch

Application Details:

Apply by the deadline: on or before May 2, 2023. 

  • We would like to get to know you a bit more through your writing. Please submit a sample of your work. This may be the manuscript that you hope to workshop at the program or another picture book manuscript (published or unpublished). If you have a writing sample that has Jewish content, please consider submitting that.
  • You’ll also be asked to provide a narrative response detailing your workshop goals and your interest in this PJ Library picture book program.
  • NEW! 2022 PJ Library Picture Book Summer Camp Alums will be asked to provide additional information about projects and revisions related to your experience last summer.
  • If you are an alum from the 2022 PJ Library Summer Camp: We welcome you to submit an updated, unfinished version of the project that you worked on during last summer’s program, if that manuscript is one you are still interested in publishing. If not, please submit a different proposal or manuscript which you plan to work on during the retreat. Your submission should have Jewish content. (If you did not attend the 2022 Summer Camp, please ignore and simply attach your submission.)

You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than May 31.

  • Upon acceptance, you will receive assistance with your travel needs and dietary needs.
  • Following acceptance, you will be asked to submit the work-in-progress that you’d like to use for the program with a cover letter.
  • Click “Apply Now” when you are ready to apply!

Important Dietary Information:

PJ Library maintains kosher style options for programs that they host. During this retreat, we will only be serving vegetarian and kosher fish options. Snacks and drinks will be certified kosher. While the Highlights Foundation’s kitchen is not kosher, they are happy to provide kosher certified packaged meals for accepted participants who mark this request.

WHY THIS PROGRAM?

This five day, in-person program is centered on mentorship, inspiration, and the Jewish community with:

  • opportunities for learning, feedback, and interaction
  • ample self-paced time to make progress on a project, or play with your creativity
  • many opportunities for feedback
  • support for Jewish themes and research

Mornings will be structured around lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities. Afternoons will be for independent writing and revising, as well as meetings with fellow creatives (including your faculty reader and small groups).

FEEDBACK EXPECTED DURING THE PROGRAM:

  • Mentorship will be provided for picture book writers and writer/illustrators through one-to-one meetings with faculty readers to review one, complete manuscript submission.
  • You will also have the opportunity to workshop one picture book submission during facilitated peer discussions led by the PJ Library team.
  • The goal of all feedback sessions is to offer you support, and ask questions to help you problem-solve, brainstorm new ideas, and work through challenges. You will receive comprehensive submission details within 4-6 weeks of the program’s start. For now, please concentrate on your sample submission for the application.

THIS PROGRAM IS A GREAT FIT IF:

  • You are an emerging writer or writer/illustrator of picture books interested in developing Jewish-themed picture books for children.
  • You attended the 2022 PJ Library Picture Book Summer Camp (limited spaces available.)
  • You have a draft or finished manuscript of a picture book with Jewish themes and would like feedback.
  • You are interested in the retreat experience with time to write on your own, 1:1 meetings and feedback, and engaging lectures and presentations.

DETAILED AGENDA:

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

The following agenda will be confirmed following your acceptance. 

Pre-Workshop
  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, engage in Highlights Foundation and PJ Library related resources (including our Community Standards), and view submission details related to this program.
  • By July 21, you will be asked to submit a full picture book to your faculty reader with a cover letter. For now, please concentrate on your sample submission for the application.
  • There will be an informal Zoom session to answer questions, review the schedule, and meet the PJ Library team in mid-July (date and time TBD.)
Day 1: Sunday, August 27, 2023
  • Travel day: please arrive by 5:30pm Eastern
  • Welcome with introductions
  • Followed by dinner and a Special Welcome from PJ Library
Day 2: Monday, August 28, 2023

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Inspirational Keynote
  • Breakout Sessions (Your Choice of Topic)

Afternoon:

  • Lunch
  • Peer discussion facilitated by a PJ Library team member
  • 1:1 Meetings with Faculty Reader (when not in peer group)
  • Beit midrash: a place to discuss Jewish ideas

Evening:

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • After Dinner: Research Panel with PJ Library Picture Book Summer Camp Alums
Day 3: Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Inspirational Keynote
  • Breakout Sessions (Your Choice of Topic)

Afternoon:

  • Lunch
  • Free writing time and informal activities
  • PJ Library & PJ Our Way: Ask Me Anything
  • Beit midrash: a place to discuss Jewish ideas

Evening:

  • Appetizers
  • Dinner
  • After Dinner: Revision Panel with PJ Library Picture Book Summer Camp Alums
Day 4: Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Inspirational Keynote
  • Breakout Sessions (Your Choice of Topic)

Afternoon:

  • Lunch (optional Lunch & Learn discussion)
  • Free writing time and informal activities
  • Informal 1:1 Meetings with PJ Team Members
  • Beit midrash: a place to discuss Jewish ideas

Evening:

  • Group Photo
  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Open Mic/ Sharing
Day 5: Thursday, August 31, 2023

Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Closing keynote
  • Reflections from attendees & closing comments from PJ Library and Faculty

Afternoon

  • Lunch & farewells

Note: Breakout topics and lectures are still being developed by faculty.

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ABOUT PJ LIBRARY:

Learn all about PJ Library at https://pjlibrary.org/home.

PJ Library sends free Jewish children’s books to families across the world every month. We know that something magical happens when parents sit down together to read with their children. PJ Library shares Jewish stories that can help your family talk together about values and traditions that are important to you.

A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, PJ Library is made possible through partnerships with philanthropists and local Jewish organizations. Families raising kids from birth through 9 years old with Judaism as part of their lives, are welcome to sign up. PJ Library welcomes all Jewish families, whatever your background, knowledge, or family make-up, or observance may be.

Apply by the deadline: on or before May 2, 2023. 

  • We would like to get to know you a bit more through your writing. Please submit a sample of your work. This may be the manuscript that you hope to workshop at the program or another picture book manuscript (published or unpublished). If you have a writing sample that has Jewish content, please consider submitting that.
  • You’ll also be asked to provide a narrative response detailing your workshop goals and your interest in this PJ Library picture book program.
  • NEW! 2022 PJ Library Picture Book Summer Camp Alums will be asked to provide additional information about projects and revisions related to your experience last summer.
  • If you are an alum from the 2022 PJ Library Summer Camp: We welcome you to submit an updated, unfinished version of the project that you worked on during last summer’s program, if that manuscript is one you are still interested in publishing. If not, please submit a different proposal or manuscript which you plan to work on during the retreat. Your submission should have Jewish content. (If you did not attend the 2022 Summer Camp, please ignore and simply attach your submission.)

You will be notified of your acceptance status no later than May 31.

  • Upon acceptance, you will receive assistance with your travel needs and dietary needs.
  • Following acceptance, you will be asked to submit the work-in-progress that you’d like to use for the program with a cover letter.
  • Click “Apply Now” when you are ready to apply!

Testimonials from Our Community

“Each and every faculty and staff member was warm, caring, encouraging, knowledgeable, and supportive. And that is an understatement. I am beyond honored to have been invited to participate.”

“Of course, I learned tons about writing Jewish kid lit, but I also learned something about myself. If I push myself to be open and outgoing to strangers, people will respond in kind!”

“I felt nurtured and supported, gently challenged, and made connections I know will last a lifetime. THANK YOU.”

 

ABOUT THE HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION RETREAT CENTER:

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops (including this special partnership with the PJ Library) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation. For more information about attending a workshop or retreat here, visit the Barn at Boyds Mills website.

DETAILS

August 27, 2023 - August 31, 2023

Highlights Foundation Campus

362 Boyds Mills Road
Milanville, PA 18443

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

LOCATION

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops and retreats (including this one) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation.

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Shuttle service is included from the local airport and bus stations, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

Our Mission in Action

Share Your Story, Inspire a Child
Scholarships
Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
Partners & Sponsors

The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.