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Facilitator:  Kathryn Lay

Workshop Syllabus

Writing for Children isn't a childish endeavor. It takes knowledge of children and their hopes and dreams and fears.  It also takes preparation, skill, and an understanding of the modern market. Writers for children have a desire to challenge, encourage, inspire, teach (without it being too obvious) and entertain their young readers. Whether writing for children's magazines or books, for those who are read to or those who read to themselves, there is a great deal of hard work and excitement in this market.

Week 1Writing for Children's Magazines

Writing children’s short stories requires many of the same elements of writing novels; strong plot, realistic characters, believable dialogue, tension, and more. Yet you only have a few hundred words to accomplish this. Magazines offer many opportunities: non-fiction, puzzles, rebus, crafts, and more. Understanding children’s magazines is important for writing for them; their needs, wants, and levels.

Week 2Writing the Picture Book

Is it a picture book or short story? Picture books have definite differences. Do you need to send in illustrations? How do you create a dummy and do you send it to publishers? What are editors looking for in picture books now? What about rhyming and alphabet books? The picture book market is getting tighter, yet many new children’s authors decide to start their career by writing the visual, short text books.

Week 3Writing Chapter Books and Novels

What’s the difference between a chapter book for young readers and a novel? What’s the most popular age group to write for? What about genres? To keep a child (and editor’s) attention throughout a novel, you must know the importance of a hook, page turner beginnings and chapter endings, main characters and their supporting cast. Which classic and modern children’s writers should you study? Is a subplot important in a kid’s book? What about writing a series?

Week 4Marketing Your Work

The children’s book market is tightening and there are fewer publishing houses than ten years ago. How does your manuscript stand out in the hundreds of stories or books a magazine receives every week? Do you need an agent and how do you get one? What is SCBWI and why join? How do you decide which magazine or publisher to send your work to? How can contests help you get published? What’s the benefit of attending conferences where children’s editors are speaking?

At the end of this 4 week course students will come away with a better knowledge of the various types of writing for children and how to approach them. You will learn the do's and don'ts that can help or hinder your career as a children's writer or author, as well as information on marketing, meeting editors, and more.

Prerequisite None.

About the Facilitator: Kathryn Lay is the author of Crown Me!, a humour novel for ages 8-12 published in 2004 and the author of Josh's Halloween Pumpkin, a picture book published in 2008. Her short story, “The Healing Truth” was included in author Bruce Coville’s anthology, A Glory of Unicorns, published by Scholastic Books. She has had over 1000 short stories and articles published in magazines and anthologies, many of them for children in: Cricket, Spider, Highlights for Children, U.S. Kids, Pockets, Children’s Playmate, Wee Ones, and hundreds more. She is a Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators.


Workshop Duration: 4 weeks  

Scheduled Sessions for 2012:


January 16th

February 20th

March 26th

April 30th

May 28th

June 25th

August 20th

September 24th

October 29th

November 26th

December 31st

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The following books are not required purchases for this course, but are highly recommended by the facilitator.

Crown Me!
by Kathryn Lay

Fifth graders Andrea Carey and Justin Davies think it would be the coolest thing to rule their subjects and they set their caps to become 'royal,' while they take part in a special history class project. The outrageous and hilarious antics of these two adorable characters makes this book a must read for anyone who enjoys a story, with strong characters and an engaging plot, one that will make you realize that running for an office, even if its in the fifth grade, is not for sissies. Crown Me is great fun!

Josh's little sister Callie is probably the sweetest girl in the whole county, but no one loves her more than her big brother. When Josh finds a giant pumpkin on Grandpa Frank's farm, the two agree to keep it a secret from Grandpa's prospective buyers. It is the biggest pumpkin that Callie has ever seen, and Josh tells the four year old stories about magic pumpkins. With such a big pumpkin, Josh will surely be crowned Harvest Festival King and get to ride in the biggest float in the parade.

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