January Picture Book Opportunities

Welcome to a new year of writing and illustrating! Increase your momentum in 2021 with one (or more!) of these Picture Book Opportunities. All opportunities listed are available to anyone with an internet connection.

Click the links to go directly to each list.

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

Does your local writing organization, SCBWI region, etc. host virtual events that are available to anyone with an internet connection? Would you like them listed here?  Please share the info  in the comments, or use our Contact Form.

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. Annual membership includes critique opportunities, monthly live webinars, special interest groups, and the support of the entire 12×12 community. Register in January and February for a full-year membership. Hosted by children’s author Julie Hedlund. 

Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest 2020 – 2021 (free)
The purpose of this contest is to encourage, discover and honor talented writers of texts for picture books from all over the world; to foster literary excellence in books for young children; and to promote international cooperation and understanding through picture books. Significant cash prizes in addition to option for publication for winners. Submissions open October 22, 2020 through April 30, 2021.

The Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books ($)
Join Assistant Editor Rosie Ahmed (Penguin Random House), acquiring Editor/Art Director/former Agent Mira Reisberg, and five guest Editors and Agents for a six-week intensive journey starting January 11, 2021. Hosted by Children’s Book Academy.

Goal Setting For 2021 (free)
Set your writing intentions for 2021. A craft chat with author Erin Dionne. Wednesday, January 6, 7pm Eastern Time. Hosted by The Writers’ Loft.

Lyrical Language Lab ($)
Learn to make your picture books lyrical, whether or not they rhyme. Next 10-week class starts in January, 2021, taught by children’s author Renee LaTulippe. Sign up for email list to receive information about self-study courses.

Rate Your Story ($)
Manuscript critiques from professionals in the field, among other benefits. Sometimes holds open submission days with free critiques for nonmembers. Membership for 2021 is full but SpeedPass critiques are available. Also watch the site for events and free critique opportunities. 

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 January 19. Hosted by our own Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call.

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day, Wednesday, January 20th. (free)

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

Storyteller Academy ($)
Online, on-demand and scheduled courses taught by industry professionals, writing community, and optional critique groups, for a monthly or annual membership fee. Term 1 courses via Zoom start in January and run through March. Hosted by writer/illustrator Arree Chung.

Virtual SCBWI Florida Annual Regional Conference ($)
This year’s theme: Finding Your Place in KidLit and Leaving Space for Others. Keynotes, Panels, Speakers, critiques. January 16 – 17, 2021.

#write5minutes ($)
Short on time? Want to write a children’s book in 2021? Join the new #write5minutes cohort led by author and editor Anastasia Suen. Enrollment opens monthly.

Writing for Children: Create a Picture Book! ($)
If you’re new to the picture book genre (or children’s writing in general,) join us in this six-week intensive where we’ll take that idea of yours and turn it into a manuscript. With author Kelly Bingham. Six Wednesdays, January 27 – March 3, 2021. Hosted by Writers.com.

Writing Picture Books: From Creation to Publication ($)
Award-winning children’s author Rosie J. Pova will cover the essential elements and steps in the process of creating picture books, from generating story ideas to finishing a first draft, picking a catchy title, to revising and submitting. Eight Mondays beginning January 11, 2021, enroll by January 4. Hosted by Writing Workshops.

Children’s Writing for Beginners
With author Lisa Bullard. Six Tuesdays, January 26 – March 2, 2021.

Reading and Writing Diverse Kidlit and YA
With author Rachel Werner. Twelve Wednesdays, January 27 – April 14, 2021.

Getting to Know Your Character
4-week course with author Sarah Aronson. Thursdays, January 7 – 28, 2021.

Picture Book Character A-Z
5-week intensive with author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Primarily a self-paced program with community forum and weekly office hours. January 25 – February 28, 2021.

What’s Going On? The State of Children’s Literature Publishing 2021
With Phoebe Yeh, Vice President and Co-Publisher at Crown Books For Young Readers, and Maria Modugno, Executive Editorial Director of Random House Studio/Random House Children’s Books. Tuesday, January 12, 2021 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern Time.

Beyond Fact-Flinging: Essential Elements to Elevate Info Books ($)
With Heather L. Montgomery. Six Sundays, January 17 – February 21, 2021, 6pm – 8pm Central Time.

Empower 2021 ($)
Two Days of Artistry & Intent to Start Your New Year. Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10, 2021, Noon – 6pm Central Time, both days.

Nonfiction Book Launch Extravaganza (free)
Virtual book launch of NONFICTION WRITERS DIG DEEP: 50 Award-Winning Children’s Book Authors Share the Secret of Engaging Writing. Saturday, January 16, 2021, 11am – 12pm Central Time.

Writing Picture Books for Readers Ages 3 to 103 ($)
Craft Webinar with author Pat Zietlow Miller. Saturday, January 23, 2021, 12pm – 1pm Central Time.

Writing [Picture Books] with Authenticity ($)
With author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley. Six Tuesdays, January 12 – February 16, 2021, 7pm – 9pm Central Time.


Low-cost webinars hosted by SCBWI regional chapters, available everywhere. Thanks so much to the Nevada chapter for compiling a list, and to KIDLIT411 for linking to it. See link above for webinars beyond this month.

Have a Little Heart: Writing that Speaks to the Soul with Author Pat Zietlow Miller. January 4th, 2020 10-11:30am Mountain Time. Hosted by SCBWI Utah/Southern Idaho.

Learn Everything About Picture Books with Author Miranda Paul  January 5, 2021, 7pm – 8:30pm Central Time. Hosted by the Texas: Austin chapter of SCBWI.

The Essentials of Creating Compelling Characters with Lily Malcom, Dial Books. January 9th, 2020 noon Eastern Time (7pm Israel). Hosted by Israel SCBWI, conducted in English.

Getting your Picture on the Page with author/illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba. January 11, 2020 at 10am – 12pm. Hosted by the Carolinas SCBWI.

Scholastic Bookfairs with Robin Bailey Hoffman How to get your traditionally published book selected. January 15, 2020 at 7pm Central Time. Hosted by Illinois SCBWI.

Amazon SEO for Authors with author Jason McDonald. The art and science of getting your book to the top of the search engines. January 16, 2020 at 6pm-7pm Pacific Time. Hosted by San Francisco North/East Bay SCBWI.

Picture Books As Physical Objects by Laurel Symonds of the Bent Agency We’ll consider how interactive elements, line breaks, page turns, and other techniques enhance the reading experience. January 18th, 2020 10am Alaskan Time (11am Pacific Time) Hosted by SCBWI Alaska.

Picture Book Webinar Series This program offers a series of 4 webinars for picture book writers, and illustrators that also write. January 18, 9:00AM & 10:30AM (Pacific Time) and January 26 9:00AM & 10:30AM (Pacific Time). Hosted by SCBWI Inland Northwest.

New Twists, Turns & Trends in Social Media: Grasping the New Basics with Greg Pincus January 19, 3-4PM Eastern Time. Hosted by SCBWI West-Central Upstate New York.

Five Kinds of Nonfiction: Understanding the Children’s Publishing Market  with author Melissa Stewart. January 25, 2020 at 10:00–11:30am Pacific Time. Hosted by Washington SCBWI.

Nonfiction Webinar with Author Vivian Kirkfield and Editor Courtney Fahy of Little Bee Books This is a previously recorded video of a past event. You can register and watch the recording until January 30, 2020. Hosted by SCBWI Hawaii.


12 Months of Books Challenge
For authors/illustrators with 2021 children’s books, and for relatives/friends of children who love to receive books as gifts. Authors with 2021 children’s book releases register to be included on a list organized by month. Book buyers refer to the list to choose books, then preorder from their own favorite bookstores, so that every month of 2021, a new book will arrive on their favorite kiddo’s doorstep! Authors/illustrators can update information through the year for a regular update email that goes to buyers. Hosted by author Tamara Girardi.

Nevada SCBWI Mentorship Program ($)
Every other year, Nevada SCBWI hosts its flagship Mentor Program, the first of its kind among SCBWI. You do not have to live in Nevada to participate. The 2021 program is hybrid, launching by Zoom and culminating at an in-person retreat in Virginia City, Nevada (USA), in September 2021. Limited to 12 participants; those not chosen will receive a manuscript critique. Applications open until January 31.

NonFiction Fest (free) (@NFFest)
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 from January 15 – 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.

SCBWI Virtual Winter Conference ($)
SCBWI’s annual winter extravaganza, usually in New York City, will take place on Zoom in 2021. Theme: Inside Children’s Publishing. No travel! No hotel! Faculty, program, and a full schedule available at link above; scroll to bottom for registration. February 19 -22, 2021.

So You Want to be an Author/Illustrator? ($)
With author/illustrators Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Kelly Light, and Aram Kim. Mix of Live sessions and self-paced, February 4 – March 25, 2021. See website for dates/times of live sessions.

Their Lens on the World: Seeing, Speaking, Hearing Through Character ($)
With author Leah Henderson. Wednesday, February 10, 2021 7pm – 8:30pm Eastern Time.

Beginnings, Middles and Endings! ($)
With author Kathy Erskine. Two Part Workshop: February 28 & March 7, 2021 3:00 – 4:30 PM Eastern Time.

A Voice to Remember: Creating Unique Picture Book & Middle Grade Character Voices ($)
Craft Webinar with Author Leah Henderson. Saturday February 13, 2021, 11am – 12:30pm Central Time.

Picture Book Biographies: Style and Substance
With author Rob Sanders.  Six Tuesdays, February 2 –March 9, 2021.

The Complete Chapter Book Virtual Weekend Intensive ($)
Due to continued Covid-19 closures, we have turned this intensive into a weekend virtual event. Thursday, February 4 – Saturday, February 6, 2021.

Write. Submit. Support. for Picture Book Writers ($)
With author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley. Sunday, February 21 – Sunday, July 11, 2021, 2pm – 5pm 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.

#kidlitart (free)
Every Thursday
, 9pm Eastern Time (2am UTC), Twitter chat for children’s book illustrators & friends. Moderated by author/illustrators @RubinPingk and Charlene Chua (@charlenedraws).

KidLit Distancing Social (free)
A free educational hangout for kidlit writers featuring guest speakers, news, every Tuesday: 8pm Eastern Time, 7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, 5pm Pacific. Replays available here. Presented by Children’s Book Insider.

Inktober 52 (free)
A weekly drawing challenge for the entire year: one prompt a week, 52 weeks in the year, 52 drawings. Hosted by illustrator Jake Parker.

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.

Penny’s Two Cents ($)
Picture book author Penny Parker Klostermann offers video chat sessions, small-group webinars, and packages that include feedback on picture book manuscripts. Contact Penny here to schedule.

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.

SCBWI: Tomie dePaolo Master Class (see note*)
To honor the memory of Tomie dePaolo, 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 forty years of video archives featuring speakers at their annual conference–authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and publishers, now available on the YouTube channel, The Vault.

Does your local writing organization, SCBWI region, etc. host virtual events that are available to anyone with an internet connection? Would you like them listed here?  Please share the info  in the comments, or use our Contact Form.


  1. THANK YOU!!!! I just found this site and can’t believe everything is here in one place! THANK YOU for making all of our lives easier…it is much appreciate!


  2. This is an amazing list…thank you so much for putting so many resources in one place! And with the links! Will there be another installment for upcoming months? I’d love to see #50PreciousWords on the March calendar – March 2-7 – to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday – it’s free as always and there will be lots of awesome prizes.


    1. Hi Vivian,
      Thanks so much, and thanks for the dates. #50PreciousWords is now in the March listing on the Picture Book Support resource page, and it will be listed in both the February and March calendars.


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