March Picture Book Opportunities

Happy Spring! Or Happy Autumn for our Southern Hemisphere readers. March is a busy month for kidlit challenges, contests, and courses, and there are even a couple of new ones, so check them out!

Click the links to go directly to each list.

  • Too busy this month? Check out the “Register in March” list for what’s coming up in April.
  • Having trouble subscribing by email? If you can’t sign up using the form on the page, send a message through the Contact form on the About page, and I’ll email you an invitation to follow.

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. This blog post offers a sneak peek. Watch Vivian’s blog at the link above for this year’s announcement. March 2 – March 7, 2021. Hosted by children’s author Vivian Kirkfield. 

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, supportive Facebook group, prizes for those who complete the challenge. Hosted by author Rebecca Fyfe.

Picture Books from the Inside Out ($)
Join author/illustrator Peter Brown for an intensive three-hour workshop aimed at children’s book writers and illustrators. Saturday, March 13, 2021, 9am – 12pm Pacific Time. Hosted by the California: San Diego chapter of SCBWI.

Picture Book Basics ($)
Author Shannon Anderson will share the craft of writing for children so you can polish up your story and get it submission-ready! Full day, real time, online workshop, Saturday March 6, 9am – 3pm Central Time.

#PitMad (free)
Twitter pitch party for unagented authors and illustrators in all genres, happening Thursday, March 4, 2021 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)
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.

1st Annual Writing Contest: Cooking Up Culture! (See note*)
Let’s Eat and Celebrate Our Cultures with Rate Your Story’s 1st Annual Spring Writing Contest: COOKING UP CULTURE! Submit Picture Books up to 850 Words, Non-Fiction Picture Books Up to 1000 Words, as well as Chapter Books, Middle Grade, and YA up to 2000 Words. Open March 1 – March 31, 2021, winners announced May 1, 2021. *Modest entrance fee. Hosted by Rate Your Story and Co-Hosted by Dancing Flamingo Press.

The Ann Whitford Paul—Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award (See note*)
Submissions window open February 1 – April 10, 2021. Annual monetary award given for a Most Promising Picture Book manuscript. *No application fee, but must be a dues-paying member of SCBWI.

SCBWI Don Freeman Grants (See note*)
Submissions open March 1 – April 15, 2021. Annual awards given to illustrators 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 – April 1, 2021. 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.


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

Query Grind–Part 2: Tackling First Pages with literary agent Samantha Fabien March 4, 7pm Eastern

 KidLit Tools Workshop: Making Magic: Storytelling Disney-Style March 6, 1pm Mountain

Opportunities for Writers and Illustrators in Children’s Nonfiction with Lionel Bender March 6, 3pm Eastern

Intensive: Picture Books from the Inside Out with Peter Brown March 13, 9am Pacific

Grow With the Pros! Editor Erin Siu Finding Your Voice and Getting to Know Your Characters March 13, 10am Eastern

Submission Tips for Kidlit Writers with Author/Agent Miranda Paul March 25, 7pm Central

Hashtags Won’t Save You : Social Media Marketing for Illustrators and Authors March 27, 10am Mountain

lllustrating Children’s Books and Beyond: Portfolios and more for children’s markets with Jannie Ho March 28, 7pm Central


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.

Think Like an Artist to Publish Like an Author ($)
With author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Monday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 7pm Eastern Time both days.


Further Adventures in Children’s Writing ($)
With author Lisa Bullard. Six Tuesdays, March 16 – April 20, 2021, 6pm – 8pm Central Time.

Sparking and Shaping Picture Book Stories ($)
With author Megan Maynor. Six Thursdays, March 18 – April 22, 2021, Noon – 2pm Central Time.

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

Writing the Spare & Lyrical Picture Book Biography with Anika Aldamuy Denise. Six Mondays, March 1 – April 5, 2021, 7 – 9pm Central Time.

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.

Industry Webinar: You Need Help! Interns are the Answer with Rebekah Manley Tuesday March 23, 2021, 7-8:30pm Central Time.


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.

Bloom! SCBWI Montana Spring Virtual Conference ($)
SCBWI Montana is delighted to announce our spring virtual writing conference. Our theme for this year is “Bloom” in hopes that this event will inspire attendees and plant the seeds for many creative ideas to grow and bloom! April 17-18, 2021, 9am- 3pm Mountain Time.

New England SCBWI Spring Virtual Conference Event ($)
Join your fellow authors and illustrators for a weekend of online craft and camaraderie. Panels, workshops, online socials, keynotes, ask-a-mentor sessions. See schedule here, see faculty bios here. No hotel costs! Friday April 30 – Sunday May 2, 2021. Registration will be live March 7, 2021.

Writing Picture-Book Characters with Big Emotions ($)
In this hands-on webinar, editor Julie Bliven of Charlesbridge will look at what it means for a writer to evoke one’s child-like instincts and successfully express big emotions through a picture-book character. Thursday, April 15, 2021, 7pm Eastern Time. Hosted by The Writers’ Loft.


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.

Picture Book Plotting A-Z ($) with author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Five Weeks, April 5 – May 6, 2021. Live Zoom sessions each Thursday, 7– 8pm Eastern Time.

Picture Books: Inspiration and Perspiration ($) virtual weekend retreat with author/illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi and author Heidi Stemple. Friday April 9 – Saturday April 10, 2021. Submit manuscript by March 19 for 1:1 faculty consultation.


Idea Lab: Finding Inspiration for Your Children’s Book Writing  with author Cristina Oxtra. Saturday April 10, 10am – Noon Central Time.

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

Picture Book Bio II with Rob Sanders Six Tuesdays, April 6–May 11, 2021, 7-9pm Central Time.

Beyond Fact-Flinging: Essential Elements to Elevate Info Books with author Heather L. Montgomery. Six Sundays, April 11 – May 16, 2021, 6pm – 8pm Central Time.

The Heart and Humor of Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Using AKR’s Body of Work to Enhance Our Own with Marcie Colleen. Six Wednesdays, April 14 – May 19, 2021, 7-9pm Central Time.

Craft Webinar: Picture Book Revision & Cutting an Already Tight Word Count with Carole Lindstrom Saturday, April 17, 2021, 11am -12:30pm Central Time.

Animal, Mineral, Vegetable: Writing Poems About Nature with Julie Poole Six Mondays, April 19 –May 24, 2021, 6-8pm Central Time.

Writing Within or Outside Your Experience in Picture Books with Meera Sriram Saturday May 1, 2021, 1pm – 4pm 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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