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Course Title
Writing for Children


What do Madonna, Sandra Day O’Conner and Judy Blume all have in common? They are all authors of books for children. While there is no easy, sure-fire way to get published, there are tricks of the trade that will help. In this hands-on workshop, Carol Baldwin, author of “Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8,” will use her 15 years of experience leading the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators local critique group to talk about writing picture, chapter and young adult books as well as non-fiction and magazine articles.  

Upon enrollment in the class, you will receive an invitation for the class wiki site (, an online, editable website for class assignments, postings, student work and critiques. Go to the front page of the wiki, click on the link to request access. The instructor will respond via email. Then follow the instructions on the front page several days before the class begins. 

 Suggested supplemental text: “Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8.”



Bring to class: Composition book, pen, red pen or pencil.








  • Provide an overview of the variety of ways participants can write for  children.
  • Demonstrate and practice good revision principles
  • Focus on creating a picture book or short story
  • Discuss pathways to publication.



#1:  Overview

A.  Brief introduction of participants with genres they hope to write in

B.  Overview of course and of writing for children

  • Genres 

a.  Young Readers: Board/concept books, picture books, rhyming books

b.  Fiction

1)      early chapter

2)      intermediate

3)      young adult

c.  Nonfiction

1)      education market

d.  Magazines


a.  Guidelines & rights

b.  How to “ read” a bookstore or library

C.  Introduction to Daybook

D.  Show, Don’t Tell Principle: Muscle Words and Jazz It Up Activity.

E.  Red Pencil (or font) is your best friend. Embrace the first draft &  

     revision (Handout on Wiki: Writing revising cycle)

F.  Introduction to Wiki (A Wiki is a customizable, personal website that will be

    created for the use of the class participants. You will be instructed on how to 

    post your work on the Wiki as well as how to leave comments and edit your

    peers' work.)

  • Jazz It Up on Wiki

G.  Homework: Post bio and picture (optional) on your page on the Wiki.

     Respond to prompt which I post related to children’s writing. (“When I was

     little I wished I could….”)

     (Handouts on Wiki: Muscle Words, So, You Want to Write for Kids). Bring 

    favorite novel to next class with good character description marked.

 #2: Create a Memorable Character

A.  Mining your life (Handouts on Wiki: Getting to Know You, Create a 

      Character, Describe Your character)

B.   Create characters (can do this for Work in Progress or for something brand  


a.   Read novel excerpts

b.  Demonstrate brainstorm process

c.  Work alone, then read to partner

d.   Discuss genres- post genre appropriate handouts on Wiki (Or do in 

      class #7)

C.   Dialogue activity

D.   Homework: Post character paragraphs by Tuesday, critique by  Thursday.

      Bring novel to class with good setting description marked.

#3: Set the Scene

A.   Brainstorm setting.  (Handouts on Wiki: Setting Information Bank,  Setting

       Worksheet or How Moody is your setting)

a.  Interweaving setting into story. Read novel excerpts.

b.  Mine your life. Think sensory. Setting reflects mood.

c.  Demonstrate process. Indoor/outdoor

B.    Homework: Post setting paragraph by Tuesday, critique by Thursday. Bring

        novel to class with problem marked.

 #4: Theme & Plot

A.    Theme

B.    Plan your problem (Handouts on Wiki: Openings that Grab, Build-a-Plot, 

       Plan-a-Problem, Up the Ante)

C.    Open Strong

D.    Plot sentences

E.    Homework:  Complete Build-a-Plot. Post plot sentence and opening

        paragraph by Tuesday,  leave comments by Thursday.

                 (Handouts on Wiki:  Wanted: A good editor, Peer checklist)

#5: Write Now!

A.    Time to write in class

B.    Time to read/critique/review

C.    Homework: Post at least one page on the Wiki by Tuesday, critique by


 #6: Nonfiction, Magazine Market, Publishing

A.    Nonfiction- where to get ideas and how to write

B.    Magazines

C.    How to find a publisher, writing the query letter


  • Word processing skills and Internet access

Method of Instruction

  • Lecture, written activities, Wiki posting


  •  Exam: No
  •  Class participation: Yes
  •  Demonstration of skills: Yes