March Picture Book Opportunities

Happy Spring! March is a busy month for kidlit challenges, contests, and courses. This month’s list has three parts:

To see what’s coming up the rest of the year, and what else is available all year ’round, visit the PICTURE BOOK SUPPORT resource page.

Some listed events are continued from February, because registration is still open.

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

#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge (free)
Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words. There’s still time to submit before March 5, 2020. Prizes include critiques by industry professionals, free or reduced tuition for master classes, and more. Complete details here. Hosted by author Vivian Kirkfield.

Bedtime Picture Book Challenge ($)
Institute of Children’s Literature hosts this contest. Submit a previously unpublished picture book manuscript of 500 words or less. Submit by March 31, 2020.

Chapter Book Challenge #ChaBooCha (free)
Write one completed first draft of a chapter book in one month, from March 1 – March 31. (For young readers, chapter books are the next step after picture books.) Guest posts by authors and agents, prizes for those who complete the challenge. Hosted by author Rebecca Fyfe.

Debut Review Challenge (free)
March-April challenge begins. Review books by debut kidlit authors, from board books to young adult. Keep track and register for prizes. Hosted by children’s writer Laura Renauld.

The Extraordinary Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books ($)
Register in March–course starts April 6

Six-week online interactive course from the Children’s Book Academy begins April 6, 2020. Lessons, critiques, and submission opportunities. Presented by Dr. Mira Reisberg, Acquiring Editor and Art Director, Clear Fork/Spork and Allison Remcheck, Acquiring Agent, Stimola Literary.

Picture Book Party (free)
Unagented writers submit a query and the first 50 words of a submission-ready picture book (or 100 words of chapter book) for a chance at consideration by 15 participating editors and agents. Submit your contest entry on Monday, March 9, 2020, between 3:30pm – 5:30pm Eastern Time. Hosted by authors Michelle Hauck, Mindy Alyse Weiss, and Sharon Criscoe.

#PitMad (free)
Twitter pitch party for unagented authors and illustrators in all genres, happening Thursday, March 5, 2020 from 8am – 8pm Eastern Time. Happens on Twitter, but see website for detailed instructions including the #hashtags that will help picture book agents find your pitch. Hosted by Brenda Drake and the PitchWars committee.

ReFoReMo (free)
The challenge began March 2, but there’s still time to jump in. Read a hundred picture books in one month and you’ll learn a lot about writing them! Add in educational posts each weekday of March from industry professionals, who show you how to study picture books as mentor texts, and ReFoReMo (Reading For Research Month) is like a one-month master class in the picture book genre, with support on the blog and on a Facebook page the rest of the year. Prize raffle for finishers. Hosted by our own Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call.

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day (free)
The team that brings you REVISIONweek in September is hosting the Spring Revision Challenge tune-up day on March 4. Hosted by children’s authors Lauren H. Kerstein, Joana Pastro, Katie Frawley, Lynne Marie, Shannon Stocker, and Michal BaBay.

SCBWI The Ann Whitford Paul—Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award (See note*)
Submissions open February 1 – April 1.
Annual monetary award given for a Most Promising Picture Book manuscript. *No application fee, but applicant must be a member of SCBWI, which requires dues.

SCBWI Don Freeman Grants (See note*)
Submissions open March 1 – March 31.
Annual awards given to illustrators of children’s books in support of a work in progress that is not already under contract. *No application fee, but applicant must be a member of SCBWI, which requires dues.

SCBWI Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Grant (See note*)
Submissions open March 1 – March 31. Recognizes a promising manuscript by a writer over the age of 50 who has never been published. Submit in conjunction with the Work-in-Progress Awards (see below). *No application fee, but applicant must be a member of SCBWI, which requires dues.

SCBWI Work-in-Progress Awards (See note*)
Submissions open March 1 – March 31.
Annual awards given to writers of children’s books in support of a work in progress that is not already under contract, including picture books. *No application fee, but applicant must be a member of SCBWI, which requires dues.

The Writing Barn in Texas offers online courses you can take from anywhere. Both March & April courses listed so you can plan ahead & register.

Voicing the Facts: Nonfiction Picture Books with Personality ($)
This one-session course will focus on using voice to provide information in an appealing way that is authentic to your subject. Saturday, March 28, 2020, 2pm – 5pm Central Time.
Presented by author Cynthia Levinson.

Picture Book Biographies: Style and Substance ($)
In this 6-week course, author Rob Sanders helps participants dig deep into the style and substance of today’s creative non-fiction picture book biographies. Mondays, April 6 through May 11, 2020, 7pm – 5pm Central Time.

The Heart and Humor of Amy Krouse Rosenthal ($)
In this 6-week course, author Marcie Colleen will guide writers through a deep dive into the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s body of work, through reading and through writing exercises inspired by her work. Tuesdays, April 7 through May 12, 2020, 7pm – 9pm Central Time.

Perfecting the Picture Book II ($)
Perfecting the picture book is not an easy task; let author Ann Marie Stephens be your guide in this 6-week online workshop! Thursdays, April 16 through May 21, 2020, 7pm – 9pm Central Time.


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

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. 

Making Picture Book Magic ($)
A 4-week course with short, daily lessons. Options for working with a small class or on your own. New enrollments begin the first of every month. Taught and hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

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.

#PBChat (free)
Every Wednesday, 9pm Eastern Time (2am UTC), Twitter chat about picture books, featuring special guests & topics. #PBChat. Hosted by children’s writer Justin Colón.

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.

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.

You can stay on top of the latest in kidlit industry news by subscribing to Children’s Bookshelf, a free, twice-weekly e-newsletter from Publisher’s Weekly magazine. Trends, interviews, movers & shakers, controversies, bookstores, conference coverage, recent publishing deals/sales, and more. (Did I mention it’s free?) Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Friday. 


  1. I’m so glad I heard about this on 12×12. Such a great resource! I had no idea about some, heck most, of these blogs and contests. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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