February Picture Book Opportunities

Welcome back for another roundup of online opportunities for picture book writers and illustrators. Two quick things:

  1. Having trouble subscribing by email? Send a message through the Contact form on the About page, and I’ll email you an invitation to follow the blog. Multiple readers have reported trouble with this lately, and this solution seems to work.
  2. Too busy this month? Check out the “Register in February” list for what’s coming up in March (like ReFoReMo!)

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. Critique opportunities, monthly live webinars with industry professionals, and the support of the entire 12×12 community. Register at this link by February 28, 2021 for a 2021 membership. Hosted by children’s author Julie Hedlund. 

Debut Review Challenge (free)
February-March challenge begins. Hosted by children’s writer Laura Renauld.

INSIDE THE GREAT GREEN ROOM: The Surprising Story of America’s Favorite Bedtime Book
In this illustrated talk, author Leonard Marcus will introduce Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952), the inspired poet and mercurial free spirit behind the best-loved bedtime book, Goodnight Moon. Register at link above. Wednesday, February 3, 5:30 – 6:30 pm Eastern Time, via Zoom. Hosted by The Norfolk (Connecticut) Library.

NonFiction Fest (@NFFest) (free)
NFFest turns February into a crash course in writing nonfiction for children. Daily blog posts from authors and industry professionals and a Facebook community. You had to register by January 31 to be eligible for prizes, but you can still participate and learn – all for free! Hosted by the NonFiction Chicks: Lisa Amstutz, Stephanie Bearce, Nancy Churnin, Susie Kralovansky, Pat Miller, Linda Skeers, and Peggy Thomas.

#PBPitch (free)
A Twitter pitch party exclusively for picture books, happening February 11, 2021. Check website for full details, hashtags, and rules. Founded and run by Debra Kempf Shumaker, PJ McIlvaine, Mette Engell, and Mandy Yates. 

Picture Books Part 2: Full Day Workshop ($)
Do you have a story or two polished up and want to know your next steps? Join author and teacher Shannon Anderson for a real-time full-day online workshop about what to do next. Saturday, February 27, 9am – 3pm Central Time. Not ready for Part 2? See “Register in February” below for Part 1 on March 6.

#FaithPitch (@Faith_Pitch) (free)
Twitter pitch party exclusively for the Christian Book Market (CBM). Usually in February, but 2021 dates not available at time of this writing. Check Twitter account for full details, hashtags, dates, and rules. Hosted by publisher Little Lamb Books.

Lyrical Language Lab ($)
Learn to make your picture books lyrical, whether or not they rhyme. Next 10-week session planned to begin in February 2021, sign up at link above to receive email with more information. Taught by children’s authors Renee LaTulippe and Carrie Finison.

SCBWI Virtual Winter Conference ($)
SCBWI’s annual winter extravaganza will take place online in 2021. Theme: Inside Children’s Publishing. No travel! No hotel! Faculty, program, and a full schedule available at link above; scroll to bottom of that page for registration. February 19 – 22, 2021.

Valentiny Writing Contest (free)
Write a Valentines’ story no longer than 214 words, appropriate for ages 12 and under, including a character with a specified emotion. Check blog for 2021’s emotion, dates, and prizes. Hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

WriteOnCon ($)
Attend a writing conference from the comfort of home! Online conference for kidlit writers and illustrators for all levels (PB, MG, YA). Friday February 19 – Sunday February 21, 2021.

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


Low-cost webinars hosted by SCBWI regional chapters, available everywhere. See links below for details. Click link above for info on upcoming webinars. Some webinars for February, 2021:


Crash Course in Children’s Publishing ($)
Everything you need to know. Ten-week online course featuring live sessions, pre-recorded lectures, writing exercises, community interaction, goal-setting and a 1:1 consultation with faculty. Previews available online. February 3 – April 7, 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.

  • Scrum Method for Creative People with Ray Brierly (free) Thursday February 11, 7:30pm Eastern Time
  • From Inspiration to Publication with Katia Wish ($) Sunday February 28, 2 – 3:30pm 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. 


#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge (free)
Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words. This 2020 post describes last year’s event. No need to register ahead of time, but watch Vivian’s blog at link above for this year’s announcement. March 2 – March 7, 2021. Hosted by children’s author Vivian Kirkfield. 

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.

Diversify Science Scholarship for Illustrators (free)
Designed to encourage the artistic growth of Indigenous, Black, and people of color who are interested in science and nature illustration. This scholarship provides full tuition for an illustration workshop offered through the Highlights Foundation (online or in-person). Application deadline is April 20, 2021.

Madness! Poetry (free)
“March Madness” tournament for writers of children’s poetry. “Authletes” write original poems based on prompts. Thousands of schoolchildren vote on their favorites. Winners advance to the next round. Full explanation here. Register as an authlete here.  Teachers, register your classes here. Hosted by kids’ poet Ed DeCaria of Think, Kid, Think!

PBParty Annual Contest (free)
The annual PBParty contest is for unagented writers and author/illustrators with finished and polished picture book manuscripts. You submit an entry, contest coordinators pick a variety of genres and forward the entries to participating agents/editors to read and hopefully request. There will be two different submission windows (Eastern Time) on March 1, 2021; see link above for full details. Hosted by author Mindy Alyse Weiss.

Picture Book Full-Day Workshop ($)
Have you always dreamed of writing a children’s book, but don’t know where to start?
Join author and teacher Shannon Anderson for this writing workshop focused on the picture book genre. Saturday, March 6, 9am – 3pm Central Time.

ReFoReMo (free)
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 master class in the picture book genre. Registration opens on the ReFoReMo blog on February 16. The challenge begins March 1, 2021. Hosted by our own Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call.


Online Symposium for Jewish Children’s & Teen Literature ($)
This virtual workshop, an entry in our “Essential Conversations” series, is an in-community intensive experience for Jewish storytellers of all types of content for children and teens. Mix of live and recorded content. March 4 – 25, 2021.

The Art of Giving and Receiving Critique ($)
Join author Erin Dionne for this three-part mini online course to learn how to give—and receive—critiques from your writing partners. March 15 – 25, 2021.

THE WRITING BARN COURSES & EVENTS ($ unless otherwise noted)

Craft Webinar: Seeing the Forest Through the Trees When Writing Nonfiction with Martha Brockenbrough. Wednesday March 3, 2021, 7 – 8:30pm Central Time

Craft Webinar: Writing a Picture Book Biography That Kids Can’t Wait to Read with Laurie Wallmark Saturday, March 6, 2021, 11am – 12:30pm Central Time.

Perfecting the Picture Book II with Carmen Oliver. Six Mondays, March 8 – April 12, 2021, 7 – 9pm Central Time.

Craft Webinar: Rockin’ Your Revision with Cynthia Leitich Smith. Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 11am – 12:30pm Central Time.

FREE Virtual Picture Book Launch: Secrets of the Sea: The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist with Author Evan Griffith and Illustrator Joanie Stone. Saturday March 13, 2021, 11am Central Time.


For Both Illustrators and Writers

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.

#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.

For Illustrators

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

#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).

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.

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.

For Writers

#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.

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.

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.

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.

Months of a Year Banner Illustrations by Blue Ring Media, Shutterstock

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