May Picture Book Opportunities

As most of us continue to shelter in place from COVID-19, the number of online opportunities to improve your craft continues to grow. Here’s what’s available for May. To see what’s available all year ’round, and what’s coming up the rest of the year, visit the PICTURE BOOK SUPPORT resource page. Do you know of resources not on this list? Please add them in the comments! No more than one link per comment, otherwise it won’t post.

Click the links to go directly to each list.





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


Debut Review Challenge (free)
May-June reading challenge begins. Hosted by children’s writer Laura Renauld.

Eenie Meenie Miney Mini Writing Challenge (free)
Every Monday from May 11 until June 22, 2020, write a 100-word children’s story based on that week’s writing prompt, and post it in the comments. Complete all prompts for a chance to win prizes. Hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

New Voices Award (free)
Given annually by children’s book publisher Lee & Low for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Native/Indigenous writer. Submission window opens April 1, closes August 31.

National Picture Book Writing Week #NaPiBoWriWee  (free)
NaPiBoWriWee, traditionally held May 1 – 7 each year, has been postponed until later in 2020. Check Paula Yoo’s blog for more information. In this challenge, participants aim to write 7 picture books in 7 Days. Hosted by children’s book author Paula Yoo.

Nonfiction Picture Books with Tamar Brazis ($)
Tamar Brazis, Editorial Diretor of Penguin’s Viking Children’s Books, shares insights, trends, tips, and some do’s and don’ts for nonfiction picture books. Friday, May 8, 2-4 pm CDT. Hosted by The Writing Barn.

Picture Book Writing Mini Lessons (free)
Author Julie Hedlund is offering a series of free mini lessons on writing picture books for her newsletter subscribers, to work on your craft during quarantine. Click here for the most recent one, plus links to all the previous lessons.

ReFoReMo Monthly Mini Writing Challenge (free)
Themed monthly writing challenges the third Tuesday of the month from April through January, with a focus on extending mentor text research from the March ReFoReMo Challenge into writing. This month’s challenge happens May 19. 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 May 13. Hosted by children’s authors Lauren H. Kerstein, Joana Pastro, Katie Frawley, Lynne Marie, Shannon Stocker, and Michal BaBay

SCBWI Digital Workshops (see note*)
Special series of weekly one-hour webinars with renowned children’s book creators, editors, agents, and art directors. Registration opens Monday for Thursday events; replays available without prior registration. *Free, but must be a dues-paying member of SCBWI.
May digital workshops:
May 7, 1 – 2 pm PT: Two Art Directors Talking: The Theater of Picture Books presented by Laurent Linn, Art Director, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Cecilia Yung, Art Director and VP, Penguin Books for Young Readers.
May 14, 1 – 2 pm PT: Using Scene to Build Story by Linda Sue Park, Author
May 21, 1-2 pm PT: A Creative Look at the State of Children’s/YA Books by Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Xacker Literary Agency.

SCBWI: Tomie De Paulo Master Class (see note*)
To honor the memory of Tomie De Paulo, beloved author/illustrator of hundreds of picture books, SCBWI is making available a three-part master class he recorded with Lin Oliver. *Free, but must be a dues-paying member of SCBWI.

SCBWI: YouTube Channel, The Vault (free)
SCBWI has over thirty years of video archives featuring speakers at their annual conference–authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and publishers. Every Turesday and Thursday starting in May, SCBWI will be releasing videos from this archive to their new YouTube channel, The Vault.

Spring into Writing (free)
Set your own writing goals for the month of May. Registration open April 15 – May 7. Hosted by writer/illustrator Dani Duck.

Storyteller Academy Intensives ($)
Storyteller Academy Term 3 courses starting in May:
Making Picture Book Dummies
with Arree Chung
Writing Picture Book Manuscript with Jim Averbeck
Drawing 1 with Arree Chung & Alex Leon
Character Design with Vanessa Newman
Picture Book Wordsmith (version 2) with Carter Higgins
Hosted by writer/illustrator Arree Chung.


Advanced Picture Book Writing ($)
Agent Sean McCarthy will work with a small, curated group of 7 writers to polish their picture books. Apply by May 12 at this link for July 12 – November 25, 2020 workshop. NOTE: One seat in this workshop will be given free of charge to one writer of color or from a traditionally marginalized background. Apply by May 11 at this link.

DVcon (free)
A two-day virtual online writers conference in late summer or fall for authors & illustrators who identify with a marginalized community. Pre-register here to receive more information as it becomes available; follow on Twitter at @DV_con and @DVpit_.

Picture Books with Talia Benamy (*See note)
Talia Benamy, Associate Editor at Philomel/Penguin Young Readers, will work with small groups of 6 writers to refine a picture book manuscript for submission. June 4 – July 3 and June 8 – July 3, 2020. Both sessions are full for paid participants, but a seat has been reserved free of charge for one writer of color or from a traditionally marginalized background. Learn more about the workshop at this link. Apply for the workshop by May 12 at this link. Hosted by Inked Voices.

SCBWI Annual Summer Conference ($)
In light of the ongoing health crisis, this year’s summer conference has been moved from downtown Los Angeles to the digital realm. Schedule to be posted on on May 10.

Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers (WIFYR) ($)
Originally in Utah, now live via Zoom from the comfort of your own home. A full week of workshops, classes, and community. June 8-12, 2020.


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 don’t have to be an illustrator to sketch out your book. Take 8 sheets of plain paper, fold them in half, and staple the folded edge to form a 32-page booklet. Starting on page 3 or 4, sketch your characters (stick figures are fine) and write the words where you imagine them being. You’ll be amazed what you’ll find out about your story–and how to revise it.


  1. Great list of ideas to check out. I hadn’t noticed that SCBWI opened its vault. Hearing some of these keynote speakers brings back memories of when they spoke in New England years ago. Thanks!


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