Working Retreat: Chapter Books and Early Readers

In-Person | Early Readers and Chapter Books, Working Retreats
Join Debbi Michiko Florence, Kashmira Sheth, and guests for time to create and connect. This working retreat is open to all who are writing for newly independent readers, including those beginning their creative journeys and those who have more experience.

October 13 - October 16

Highlights Foundation Campus

$1199

Overview

In-person 4-Day/3-Night Working Retreat

Join Debbi Michiko Florence, Kashmira Sheth, and guests for time to create and connect during this “Working Retreat.”

A “Working Retreat” is lightly structured with one lecture each day, informal conversations, optional consultations with faculty, and plenty of time to create in the comfort and care of the Highlights Foundation retreat center.

  • This is an in-person retreat for writers of chapter books and early readers (and/or those interested in writing for this age group) who are looking for light instruction and ample time to work.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at 5:30pm Eastern on Sunday, October 13
  • Ends after lunch on Wednesday, October 16

Why This Working Retreat?

All creatives need time and space to accomplish their goals. We invite writers of chapter books and early readers (and/or those interested in writing for this age group) to gather with fellow storytellers for an immersive experience where productivity meets inspiration!

At the heart of this working retreat is the “work.”

Days will be spent on individual projects. You choose what that means for you!  Maybe you’ll draft new words on the porch of your cabin, sketch in the Art Coop, finally get to the revisions that your work-in-progress needs, or rest.

In addition to your personal time, we’ve invited authors Debbi Michiko Florence, Kashmira Sheth, and guests to work alongside you. They’ll offer one presentation and one creative exercise each day of the retreat.

Finally, you can join fellow creatives for informal gatherings by the fire in the evening, at meals, or throughout the retreat as you wish to discuss creativity and publishing, share your work, and more!

This working retreat includes:

  • Presentations and Q&A time about writing for new readers (chapter books and early readers)
  • Generative writing exercises to move your project forward
  • Shared studio and writing time with informal feedback
  • Independent time to write, revise, and discuss your work

Your retreat will be well appointed with space to create, as every accommodation option includes a personal workspace. You’ll also find various spaces around the campus to get work done, or explore the grounds if you need a change of pace or some inspiration.

“Attending a retreat at the Highlights campus felt like a portal fantasy, in the best way possible. Everyone was so friendly, and I felt so taken care of while I was there. The campus itself had wonderful spots to get creative work done (shout out to the Art Coop…I nerded out big time in there!), and I loved the routines we had where we got to do individual creative work and then come together during meals and after hours to bond and connect. It was just such a beautifully crafted atmosphere…The faculty was [also] amazing all around. They provided great insight in their presentations, and they were warm and welcome to discuss anything about the craft. I deeply enjoyed their company and their brilliance.”

What's It Like on a Working Retreat at the Highlights Foundation?

See a virtual tour of the campus, testimonials, and more information about the experience.

Feedback Expected

  • Optional consultations can be scheduled with one of our faculty mentors. These opportunities are available at an additional cost, and can be added at the time of registration or during your retreat stay. No submissions will be required or accepted for these 1:1 consultation opportunities, but you will fill out a questionnaire in advance (in our virtual classroom) to prepare.  Consultations will include time to discuss where you are in your stories, and ideas for moving forward with drafting, revisions, and/or submissions.
  • There will be informal feedback opportunities and time to share work during generative creative exercises, and as you connect with fellow attendees.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You are writing for newly independent readers. This working retreat is open to all; those beginning their creative journeys, and those who have more experience. Of most importance is having a project that you would like to work on during your independent, creative time.
  • You are a picture book or middle grade author. Curious about whether you can write for a chapter book or early reader audience?  Join us and get to work!
  • You have an idea for a chapter book or early reader. You’ll be in company with fellow creatives writing for this age group. We’ll share ideas and get your idea from seed to sprout!
  • You enjoy discussing stories and your journey with fellow storytellers. You’ll gather ideas and informal feedback about your story in a supportive environment.
  • You’d like a retreat where you can get to work. This retreat is not based on lecture. It’s time to work on your own projects, with the added immersive experience of presentations, generative writing exercises, and time to connect with fellow creatives over meals and informal gatherings.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.  Click on the headings below to explore the agenda in more detail.

Pre-Workshop
  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow creatives and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).  You can also fill out a questionnaire if you opt for a 1:1 consultation with a faculty mentor (at an additional cost).
  • We encourage you to bring projects with you to the retreat at various stages in-progress, as you will have time to draft, revise, and polish your work during independent time. This retreat is not filled with lecture.  At its heart, this retreat is time to work on your project.
Day One: Sunday, October 13, 2024
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner: Expectations and goals for our time together
Day Two: Monday, October 14, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Presentation: Crafting Characters for Independent Readers with Debbi Michiko Florence
  • Generative writing prompt (character)
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Optional “writing sprints” and art activities in the Art Coop

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Informal gathering fireside (weather permitting)
Day Three: Tuesday, October 15, 2024
Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Presentation: Plotting Stand-Alone Stories and Series with Kashmira Sheth
  • Generative writing prompt (plot)
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Working Retreat time: read, write, connect
  • Special Guest Presentation
  • Generative writing prompts (materials will be provided)

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • Sharing, fireside (weather permitting)
Day Four: Wednesday, October 16, 2024
Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Optional Consultations (Retreat time if not in consultation)
  • Final questions and closing

Afternoon

  • Lunch & farewells
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

As an in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the retreat. It is important to recognize that this is not a “jam-packed” workshop; rather it is a Working Retreat that combines opportunities for learning with ample time to retreat and work on your own projects.

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.

If you would like additional support from faculty, you can add on a private 1:1 consultation at an additional cost. There is no submission required, though we will ask you to fill out a short questionnaire in the virtual classroom prior to your consultation.

How It Impacts Kids

Chapter books and early readers are an important part in a child’s reading development, allowing children time to develop the necessary skills, confidence, and love of reading that will put them on the path of becoming successful lifelong readers.This Working Retreat gives you time and space to work on your projects, in a supportive environment.

Testimonials from Our Community

“The faculty was friendly, helpful, patient, accessible. I felt as if they were glad to answer any and all questions and to share their knowledge and expertise.”

“It was, hands down, the best writing experience I’ve ever had. Too often educational encounters are competitive in nature. In this workshop I felt totally relaxed.”

“It really gave me the focus I needed, to sort out my stories and make a strategy for submissions.”

“The cottage was perfect, the surroundings peaceful and relaxing. I was able to find a balance of work and play. So much thought and consideration has gone into providing an inspiring, rejuvenating environment.”

“This retreat was wonderful. There was so much positive energy, and it really gave me the momentum to keep working toward my goals.”

Special Guests

DETAILS

October 13 - October 16

$1199

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.