Writing First Chapter Books and Early Readers 2020

  • Highlights Foundation Highlights Foundation
  • Pocono Mountains Municipal, Coolbaugh Township, PA, USA
  • Jun 14 - 17, 2020 (4 days)

About This Event

Join Us To:

Understand the unique needs of books for children who are beginning to read independently, and discover what makes these books successful. Find out the differences between picture books, early readers, and transitional chapter books. Learn about the market and how to find the right publishing home for your work. Get one-to-one critiques of your work from faculty author-editors.

What You'll Learn:

In between the read-aloud world of picture books and the more challenging realm of chapter books 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. At this workshop, 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-to-one critique sessions with a workshop leader.

Hear presentations from faculty.

Try writing exercises to strengthen your work-in-progress.

Enjoy free time for writing.

Attend If:

You remember the first time you read a book all by yourself. Maybe it was The Cat in the Hat or Frog and Toad? If you want to bring that same joy and confidence to readers who are picking up a book on their own for the very first time, this workshop will give you info on the market as well as hands-on activities to strengthen your work.

You're a picture book author or author/illustrator. Curious about whether you can write and/or illustrate for this market? We'll help you figure out where your work can fit in, and you'll hear from editors about what they are looking for.

You're a teacher with experience in sharing these books with students. We'll show you how you can play to your strengths when writing for this market. You'll get a one-to-one critique on your manuscript so that you can move forward in your revision process.


Day 1


Arrival and check in


Appetizers and Dinner

After dinner: Welcome from Laurie and Wiley

Skype Visit with editor

Day 2



Lecture: How Early Readers Help Kids Learn to Read, Wiley

One-to-Ones/Personal Writing Time



Writing Exercise, Laurie

Guest speaker


Appetizers and Dinner

After dinner: S'mores on the Patio and book signing

Day 3



Lecture: Beyond Baby Books: Character, Setting, and Structure in Early Readers and First Chapter Books

One-to-Ones/Personal Writing Time



Writing Exercise, Wiley -- Pacing/Page Turns

Skype with editor


Appetizers and Dinner

After dinner: Open Mic

Day 4



Opportunities in Educational/Trade Work-for-Hire, Wiley

Writing Exercise, Laurie

Final words/questions/goals to bring home


Lunch and Farewells

A Note About Highlights Workshop Agendas


Wiley Blevins: Early Readers and Transitional Chapter Books: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

Laurie Calkhoven: Picture book? Early Reader? Chapter Book? Where Does Your Story Fit?

New for New Readers: What (Exactly) IS an Easy Reader?

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.

Laurie Calkhoven: Meditation to Uncover Character

Scholastic's Branches, a line of early chapter books.


"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."

Scholarships Available

Three scholarships are available for this workshop:

Full tuition

Half tuition

Partial tuition

Application deadline is March 26, 2020. Scholarships will be announced April 25, 2020.

Click here to apply!

For more information about scholarships, click here.

Cancellation Policy

100% deposit refund for cancellation 30+ days before event.
50% deposit refund for cancellation 15-29 days before event.
0% deposit refund for cancellation 0-14 days before event.
The remaining balance (total price minus deposit) is due upon arrival.
Get full details...

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