A Year of Picture Book Opportunities

Do you write or illustrate picture books? Throughout 2020, Writers’ Rumpus will post a monthly list of online challenges, courses, contests, and events for picture book writers and illustrators. This post describes the “origin story” of this series. Want to go straight to the January listings? Click here. Want to plan ahead? Check out our new Picture Book Support resources page for the full-year list.

How the generosity of writing communities turned a blog post idea into a whole new resource page

A year ago I started writing picture books and needed all the help I could get. Fortunately, there is a LOT of help out there for picture book writers and illustrators. But sometimes I found out about challenges when they were already over. So I thought, “Hey, why don’t I make a list of all the challenges and events for the whole year and post it on the blog, so everyone can plan ahead? I’ll stick to online opportunities, so geography is no barrier.”

The first draft of the list was sparse. Some months had nothing, others had only one or two events. I’m a big believer in the power of community, so I reached out first to my critique groups and then to online picture book communities. The response was enthusiastic, with people not only posting suggestions but also tagging their friends, who tagged their friends, and before I knew it I had a Word document that was over 12 pages long. TWELVE PAGES! Much too long for a single blog post. So I thought…12 pages, 12 months. One post a month, and for those who like to plan ahead, a resource page that can hold not only the monthly events, but also some amazing resources that are available any time, all year long.

And that’s how YOUR generous help turned this single-blog-post idea into 12 monthly posts and a long resource page. Keep on being generous–use and share the lists far and wide!

How to Help

The list will never be 100% complete, because there are SO MANY wonderful opportunities in the kidlit community, and new ones are added all the time. But you can help make the list more complete, and keep it current.

  • If you host an online course or event, especially one that occurs several times a year, please contact us with dates and links and I’ll add them to the upcoming monthly posts.
  • If you know of an online event that is not listed here, please contact us with the name and a link, so we can add it. For now, please send only information relevant to picture books and chapter books. We will add a page for MG/YA at some future point and will ask for current info then.
  • And of course if you find any errors or broken links, send them my way too, so I can fix them.

To contact me, either comment on any of these monthly posts, or send a message through the Contact Form on the About Us page.

Thanks to EVERYONE who contributed, including Writers’ Rumpus and members of the Facebook groups for 12×12, Children’s Book Academy, KidLit 411, and Picture Book Summitteers. Special thanks to Silvia Liu of KidLit411 and to authors Anna Maledon and Rachel Funez, whose extensive lists included several unique additions.




Here’s what’s happening this month. To see what’s coming up the rest of the year, and what’s available all year ’round, visit the PICTURE BOOK SUPPORT resource page.

Fee or free? Here’s a key:
– no fee to enter or to participate
($) – fee to enter or to participate
(*See note) – look for *explanation within the blurb

12×12 Picture Book Challenge ($)
Write 12 picture books in 12 months. Critique opportunities, monthly live webinars with industry professionals, and the support of the entire 12×12 community. Register between January 8 and February 29, 2020 for a full-year membership. Hosted by children’s author Julie Hedlund. 

Children’s Book Academy course ($)
The Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books begins January 13, 2020. Join Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquiring art director & senior designer Andrea Miller & Dr. Mira Reisberg, acquiring editor & art director at Clear Fork Publishing/Spork in this hands-on five-week adventure.

Color Collective (free)
Weekly Twitter challenge for illustrators where you make work based on a single color.

Debut Review Challenge (free)
Read and review books by debut authors and illustrators. January-February reading challenge begins. Hosted by children’s writer Laura Renauld.

Ditty of the Month Club (DMC) (free)
Practice writing in rhyme and submit your poem. A new challenge each month, plus interviews. Hosted by Michelle H. Barnes on Today’s Little Ditty website.

FireButtChallenge (free) (#FiBuCha)
About once a month, without warning, a #FiBuCha notice goes out on Twitter. You have 24 hours to write a new PB draft or revise an existing one. Grab a writing partner to keep yourselves accountable. Hosted by children’s authors Michal Babay and Katie Frawley

Illustration Friday (free)
Weekly challenge for illustrators with a new theme each week. 

Monthly Twitter Writing Challenge (free)
Participants agree to aim for 500 words or 1 hour of editing each day for a month. Five hundred words? That’s a whole picture book. Founded by author Kristy Acevedo.

Picture Book Study Hall ($)
Marcie Colleen hosts this month-long online critique group for writers who have multiple picture book manuscripts to revise. New session starts each month.

NonFiction Fest (free) February event with a January registration deadline.
NF Fest turns February into a crash course in writing nonfiction for children. Daily blog posts from authors and industry professionals and a Facebook community. Register by January 31 to be eligible for prizes. Hosted by the NonFiction Chicks: Lisa Amstutz, Stephanie Bearce, Nancy Churnin, Susie Kralovansky, Pat Miller, Linda Skeers, and Peggy Thomas.

Rate Your Story ($)
Manuscript critiques from professionals in the field, among other benefits. Sometimes holds open submission days with free critiques for nonmembers. Register by January 15, 2020 for a full-year membership, but may close earlier if full. 

ReFoReMo Monthly Mini Writing Challenge (free)
Themed monthly writing challenges the third Wednesday of every month. This month’s challenge happens January 21. Hosted by our own Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call.

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day (free)
The team that brings you REVISIONweek in September is having a tune-up day on January 22. Hosted by children’s authors Lauren H. Kerstein, Joana Pastro, Katie Frawley, Lynne Marie, Shannon Stocker, and Michal BaBay

SCBWI Draw This! Challenge (See note*)
Monthly challenge for illustrators with a new theme each month. Submit by the 20th for next month’s gallery. *No application fee, but must be a dues-paying member of SCBWI.

Storystorm (free)
Come up with 30 story ideas in 31 days. Inspirational guest posts. Raffle of prizes for those who succeed. Register by January 7, 2020 to be eligible for prizes. Hosted by children’s author Tara Lazar.

Storyteller Academy ($)
Online courses taught by a variety of professionals, related to writing and illustrating for children. Term 1 courses start January 25 and end March 28, 2020. Hosted by Arree Chung.

 What are YOUR favorite online picture book events? Are any missing? Let us know in the comments.


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