Writing for Beginning Readers: First Chapter Books and Early Readers

In-Person | Early Readers and Chapter Books
Do you want to bring joy and confidence to kids who are picking up a book on their own for the very first time? Whether fiction or nonfiction, learn how to bring your stories to life for these beginning readers.

October 4, 2023 - October 7, 2023

Highlights Foundation Campus

$1299

Overview

In-person 4-Day/3-Night Workshop and Retreat

Do you want to bring joy and confidence to kids who are picking up a book on their own for the very first time?  Whether fiction or nonfiction, learn how to bring your stories to life for these beginning readers.

  • This is an in-person workshop at our Retreat Center with presentations, hands-on exercises, consultations, and conversation in the company of fellow creatives.
  • We include ample time to relax, retreat, and work on your own projects.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Pre-course submissions are due in advance of the workshop for your 1:1 consultation during the workshop.
  • Begins at with dinner 5:30pm Eastern on Wednesday, October 4
  • Ends with lunch at 12:00pm-1:00pm Eastern on Saturday, October 7
  • 20 participants max

Why This Workshop?

Do you remember the first time you read a book all by yourself? Was it Frog and Toad or Splat the Cat? Do you pause in front of library shelves featuring Jada Jones and Ivy & Bean?

In between the read-aloud world of picture books and the more challenging realm of middle grade novels lies an exciting spectrum of fiction and nonfiction for beginning readers. These early readers and first chapter books spark a love of independent reading and build confidence in brand-new readers.

This is an in-person workshop that features lectures, discussions, writing exercises, networking time and a 1:1 consultation with a faculty member. You will:

  • Find out the differences between picture books, early readers, and transitional chapter books.
  • Examine what makes the best books for this age group successful.
  • Zero in on where your work–fiction, nonfiction, or both–fits in.
  • Learn how to generate new ideas.
  • Learn about researching and writing your stories.
  • Discover how to find the right publishing home for your work.
  • Have one-on-one critique sessions with a workshop leader.
  • Have workshop sessions from faculty.
  • Try writing exercises to strengthen your work-in-progress.
  • Enjoy free time for writing.

Feedback Expected

  • Informal feedback throughout the workshop via discussions and open sharing during free creative time.
  • A 1:1 consultation during the workshop to discuss feedback from your pre-course submission, and/or additional questions you have about writing for beginning readers.
  • Submissions are due in advance of the workshop. To get the most from your consultation during the workshop, please submit:
    • up to ten, double-spaced pages from your chapter book, or
    • up to ten pages from one or two early reader projects (no more than two projects, ten pages total), plus
    • A cover letter where you can tell us a little about your project, including where you are in the draft (finished, revising, just starting out) and any relevant biographical information.
    • If you do not have a current work in progress, feel free to submit a list of ideas or questions about writing for beginning readers.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You’re a picture book or middle grade author. Curious about whether you can write an early reader or chapter book? We’ll help you find out.
  • You’ve got an idea for a chapter book or early reader. You’ll get 1:1 feedback to help you strengthen your idea.
  • You’ve written a chapter book or early reader and want to know what’s next. This course will help you learn how to find the right publishing home for your story.
  • You want some time to relax, retreat, and work on your own projects. The Highlights Foundation retreat center is the perfect place to do all of the above!

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

Pre-Workshop
  • Approximately three weeks before the workshop you will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to peers, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and submit your work for your 1:1 consultation.
  • Submissions are due in advance of the workshop. Everyone will be scheduled with a 1:1 consultation during the retreat. To get the most from this time, please submit:
    • up to ten, double-spaced pages from your chapter book, or
    • up to ten pages from one or two early reader projects (no more than two projects, ten pages total), plus
    • A cover letter where you can tell us a little about your project, including where you are in the draft (finished, revising, just starting out) and any relevant biographical information.
    • If you do not have a current work in progress, feel free to submit a list of ideas or questions about writing for beginning readers.
Day 1: Wednesday, October 4
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • After dinner: Welcome and Introductions
Day 2: Thursday, October 5

Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Lecture: How Early Readers Help Kids Learn to Read
  • 1:1 Consultations/Personal Writing Time for those who are not in consultation

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Writing Exercise
  • Continued 1:1 Consultations/Personal Writing Time for those who are not in consultation

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • After dinner: Informal discussion and sharing fireside
Day 3: Friday, October 6

Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Lecture: Character, Setting, and Structure in Early Readers and First Chapter Books
  • Continued 1:1 Consultations/Personal Writing Time for those who are not in consultation

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • Writing Exercise
  • Session with special guest Winsome Bingham

Evening

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • After dinner: Open Mic
Day 4: Saturday, October 7

Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Opportunities in Educational/Trade Work-for-Hire
  • Writing Exercise
  • Final words/questions/goals to bring home

Afternoon

  • Lunch and 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 workshop. This program has a good amount of independent time so you have space for your personal needs. While we encourage participation in all group events, we know that as an adult learner you can decide if you need more time to yourself. Please let someone from our staff or faculty know if you plan to step away from group activities.

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

How It Impacts Kids

Beginning readers who fall in love with stories have a strong foundation as life-long readers. Learn how to make your early readers and first chapter books engaging and beloved for your readers.

Testimonials from Our Community

“The faculty were knowledgeable and engaging. They exceeded my expectations.”

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of personal time we had with the teachers. They were so open and available. Easy to talk to. I gained so much through our conversations.”

Special Guests

DETAILS

October 4, 2023 - October 7, 2023

$1299

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
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Equity & Inclusion in Kidlit
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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.