May Picture Book Opportunities

Lots happening for both writers and illustrators this month! 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.

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


Challenges, Contests, Mentorships, & Awards

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

Mermay Challenge (free)
A month-long mermaid-themed illustration challenge, with a different prompt for every day of the month. Post artwork on Instagram with challenge hashtags to be eligible for prizes. Hosted by illustrator Tom Bancroft.

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. Winners receives a $2,000 cash prize and a first time publishing contract with Lee & Low Books. All submissions must be submitted between May 1, 2022, and August 1, 2022 11:59 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).

Spring into Writing (free)
May 1 – 31 each year. Set your own writing goals for the month. Hosted by writer/illustrator Dani Duck.

The Great Outdoor Picture Book Contest ($)
Write a fiction picture book for kids ages 4-7 years old that inspires them to venture out and experience the great outdoors! Cash prizes and critiques for winners, free online workshop for all entrants. Deadline: May 31, 2022. From the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Key Colors Competition (*see note)
Clavis Publishing, New York launches Key Colors, the two-yearly national contest for illustrators of unpublished picture books. Winner receives $8000 and the winning work will be published by Clavis Publishing. Deadline for submission: June 30, 2022. Open to residents of the United States and Canada only. *No entry fee listed.

DVmentor (free)
For book creators from marginalized and underrepresented communities, DVMentor pairs agented and/or published creators with unagented authors and illustrators for a mentorship through revision, querying, and more. Mentees apply May 1 – 14, 2022. From Diverse Voices, Inc.

DVdebut (free)
For debuting, marginalized book creators who are looking to survive their debut year. Mentors are seasoned authors who have been through it all before and are willing to guide a new author through the highs and lows of this experience with the hope of retention and expansion of our community. Mentees apply May 1 – 14, 2022. From Diverse Voices, Inc.

Webinars & Conferences

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. Includes LOTS of Picture Book sessions for both writers and illustrators, given by distinguished faculty. No hotel costs! Friday April 29 – Sunday May 1, 2022.

The Picture Book Dummy – A Revision Tool for KidLit Creators ($)
Join picture book creators Tanja Bauerie and Michael Hale to learn how to create a picture book dummy and how you can use this vital tool to improve your craft. Two parts: May 7 & May 14, 2022, 1pm-2:30pm Arizona Time. (AZ does not observe Daylight Saving Time.) Presented by SCBWI Arizona.

How to Self-Edit Your Picture Book ($)
Join editor and author Natascha Biebow for a comprehensive workshop for writers & writer/illustrators that will teach you how to reshape and fix any picture book manuscript. May 11, 2022, 11am Pacific Time. Presented by Children’s Book Insider.

Poetry & Idea Generator: A Two Night Mini for All Writers ($)
Catch your words and find your rhythm as you explore poetic forms with Laura Shovan and Padma Venkatraman. May 12 & 19, 2022, 7 – 8:15 Eastern. From The Highlights Foundation.

Make ‘Em Famous: Writing Biographies of Lesser Known Figures ($)
How do you write about unfamiliar heroes in a way that will make the kids want to know them? Join author Nancy Churnin to learn how. May 15, 2022, 10am – 11:30 am Central Time. Hosted by The Writing Barn.

MayFest Conference ($)
SCBWI California: San Diego’s annual MayFest for this year will feature four separate two-hour workshops starting at 8:30 AM (PT) through to our 5:00 PM Award presentations, May 14, 2022.

School Visit Secrets from a Teacher and Author ($)
As a teacher, Shannon Anderson knows what expectations schools have. As an author, she has lots of do’s and don’ts to share too! May 14, 2022 10-11am Eastern. Hosted by SCBWI Indiana.

SCBWI Montana’s Illustrator Extravaganza ($)
Ready to take your career to the next level and hear from industry leaders? Join SCBWI Montana for our spring online conference! May 14 & 15, 2022 on Zoom.

Nonfiction Picture Books: Lessons I’ve Learned ($)
In this webinar, author Sandra Nickel shares the important lessons she’s learned writing nonfiction picture books. May 15, 2022, 5 – 6 pm Central European Time (will be earlier in North America—convert to your time zone). Hosted by SCBWI-France.

Digital Workshops 6.0 (*See note)
SCBWI’s digital workshops are back! Each webinar will take place at 4:00 pm Eastern Time / 1:00 pm Pacific Time. Video recordings will be posted to the SCBWI website 24 hours after each workshop concludes and will remain up on the Digital Workshop archive page for one month. Log into your SCBWI account at link above for access to Zoom links. *Free for dues-paying members of SCBWI.

  • April 28, 2022: Using Texture as a Tool for Creating Pictures With illustrator Rahele Jomepour Bell
  • May 5, 2022: An Illustrator and Author Walk into a Bar…With illustrator Benson Shum and author Meg Fleming
  • May 12, 2022: Stop Waiting for Inspiration and Start Becoming an Idea Generator With author Naz Kutub

Falling in Love with a Manuscript: From Initial Spark to Publication ($)
Join editor Karen Chaplin to find out what it takes to get a manuscript from “Initial Spark” to publication. May 19, 2022, 7:15pm Eastern Time. Hosted by SCBWI Carolinas.

Illustrators Intensive Day ($)
A full day of interactive sessions (with an agent, an art director, and an illustrator) to help us explore the different phases of the make-sell-buy process. May 21, 2022, 8:45 – 4pm Eastern Time. Hosted by SCBWI Carolinas.

Something Blue – Illustrator Conference ($)
A full day of online sessions for illustrators. May 21, 2022, 8am – 5pm Central Time. Hosted by SCBWI Iowa.

How to Get Published: Traditional, Self, and Everything in Between ($)
todayIndustry Expert Jane Friedman discusses everything you need to know about how book publishing operates today. May 21, 2022, 10-11:30am Mountain. Hosted by SCBWI Rocky Mountain.

Tension and Pacing: Tools, Tips, and Keeping Kids Delighted ($)
Join Karen Boss, editor at Charlesbridge, to learn about tension and pacing in picture books and novels for kids! May 24, 2022, 7-8:30pm. Hosted by SCBWI New York: Westchester.

Agent/Editor PB or Novel Critique ($)
Is your picture book or novel manuscript working? Unsure if it’s ready to query? Get the answers you need form an industry professional! QA & Critique or QA only. May 27, 2022, 6-8:30pm Eastern. Hosted by The Writers’ Loft.

Multi-Week Courses

Writing for Children: Create A Picture Book! ($)
With author/illustrator Kelly Bingham. Picture books have changed greatly over the last few decades, and the market is wide open for fresh ideas. Join us in this six-week intensive where we’ll take that idea of yours and turn it into a manuscript! Six weeks starting April 27, 2022.

Mastering Graphic Novels ($)
Graphic novels are a hot market right now for all ages of readers, from adults to picture books! This informative five week course has FIVE co-teachers and includes live instruction, self-paced learning, and submission opportunities. Five weeks beginning May 9, 2022. Hosted by The Children’s Book Academy.

Show (Don’t Tell) Revision Workshop ($)
Learn how to bring readers deeper into the world of your children’s book story and your query letter pitch by showing (not telling) in this 4-week workshop for picture book to YA authors. Includes Zoom recordings and a private Facebook group. May 4, 11, 18, 25, 2022. Led by author and developmental editor Anastasia Suen.

The Business Side of Writing: How to Build an Online Presence ($)
Learn how and why to promote your brand and work online with author Stefanie Hohl! Six Mondays, May 9 – June 20, 2022 (not 5/30), 7-9pm Central Time. Hosted by The Writing Barn.

Writing for Kids 101 ($)
Have you always wanted to write stories for kids, but never knew where to start? This class with Tina Tocco will let you get your feet wet. Four Mondays starting May 16, 2022. Hosted by Writing Workshops.

Master Skills Workshop ($)
With esteemed Editor Patti Gauch and noted Author Gary D. Schmidt. An online version of the in-person summer workshop. May 22 – 28, 2022. One fully-funded diversity scholarship spot available. Whale Rock Literary Workshops.

Humor Master Workshop II ($)
Shine up that funny draft for a saleIn this humor workshop led by Cate Berry, all manuscripts will be lovingly brainstormed and lifted to their highest potential in real time. Six Sundays, May 22 – June 26, 2022, 4:30 – 6:30 Central Time. Hosted by The Writing Barn.


For Both Illustrators and Writers

KidLit Social (free)
A free educational hangout for kidlit writers featuring guest speakers, news, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month: 8pm Eastern, 7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, 5pm Pacific. Replays available here. Sign up for guest notifications here, and get a free ebook: “The Ultimate Children’s Writing Cheat Sheet.” 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.

PBParty New Draft Challenge (free)
Usually the third Thursday of each month, unless it conflicts with a pitch party, so check web site. All day, Eastern Time. Hosted by Mindy Alyse Weiss.

PB Workshop Chat Group (free)
In the PB Workshop chat server you can discuss writing, ask for tips and opinions, share your favorite books, discuss events, etc. Hosted on the Discord App by author Chris Nantais.

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

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.

#FirstDraftFriday (free)
The first Friday of each month, 8am-8pm Eastern Time (1pm-1am UTC), write a new picture book first draft with inspiration from the day’s blog post featuring guest authors, then enter to win a free MS critique. #FirstDraftFriday. Hosted by children’s writer Hollie Wolverton.

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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