Outline of a girl leaning on a wall reading a book.

MG / YA Support

girl reading shutterstock_1156270006Do you write Middle Grade or Young Adult books? Find support for your writing through these online kidlit communities, challenges, courses, contests, and events.

Fee or free? Here’s a key:
(free)
– no fee to enter or to participate
($) – fee to enter or to participate; fees vary
(*See note) – look for *explanation within the blurb

Year-round resources are listed first, followed by events and opportunities available each month. Click the name of a month to go directly to that month’s listings. NOTE: See monthly blog posts for special events scheduled during COVID-19 social distancing.

January                February               March                  April                       May                       June                      July                        August                  September         October               November          December

Know a good resource or event that isn’t on this list? Is it intended for middle grade or young adult writers? Is it available online (not an in-person conference or event)? Please tell us in the comments, or send a message through the Contact Form on the About Us page. Thanks.

Available all year:

Children’s Book Academy ($)
On-demand self-paced courses from industry professionals on a variety of topics. CBA also offers scheduled courses with faculty support; see monthly listings. Hosted by Mira Reisburg.

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.

Eva Langston Writing for Teens and tweens (and adults, too!) (free) Visit for plot exercises, analysis of beloved MG and YA writing, and blog posts with actionable advice.

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript (MG and YA writers)

From the Mixed-Up Files… of Middle-Grade Authors (free access to resources, closed to new members) houses resources for MG readers, teachers, librarians, and writers. Look for craft resources, book lists, STEM posts, and the “We Need Diverse Middle Grade” series!

GETTING YOUR MIDDLE GRADE OR YOUNG ADULT NOVEL UNSTUCK: AN ON DEMAND ONLINE WORKSHOP 2021 ($) Highlights offers an on demand workshop available all year long with Erin Dionne and Chris Tebbetts. Learn lots of tools for getting unstuck! Gain access to workshop videos, worksheets, a 20 minute zoom with Erin or Chris to discuss your WIP, monthly office hours, and access to a community discussion page!

Institute of Children’s Literature ($)
Offers multipart course Writing for Children and Teens, with one-on-one mentorship by an industry professional; The Writers’ Block, an online community with many benefits including monthly critiques; and free weekly podcasts with Katie Davis. 

KidLit 411 (free)
Comprehensive online resource for children’s writers and illustrators, with associated Facebook group. KidLit411 has their own list of Writing Challenges here and Challenges for Illustrators here. Founded and maintained by Elaine Kiely Kearns and Silvia Liu.

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

Lyrical Language Lab / Peek & Critique (free)
YouTube channel available all year long, providing free critiques and lessons to kidlit writers every Monday. Hosted by children’s poet and author Renee LaTulippe.

Lyrical Language Lab Courses (*See note)
This online course teaches children’s writers the poetic techniques. Subscribe to mailing list for next availability. *Link lands on a page with links to five free lyrical language lessons, plus info about 10-week paid course. Hosted by children’s poet and author Renee LaTulippe.

Mary Kole’s kid lit website (free) is filled with information on querying, publishing, and (of course) writing! Find books on craft and recent recommended children’s books. You could get lost in this resource for days! She also has a book if you want even more!

Monthly Twitter Writing Challenge (free)
Participants agree to aim for 500 words or 1 hour of editing each day for a month. Founded by author Kristy Acevedo.

Rate Your Story ($)
Year-round program with registration in November, December, and January. Manuscript critiques from professionals in the field, among other benefits. Nonmembers may submit for free critiques on open submission days, purchase a Speed Pass for a single critique, and participate in the fee-based annual contest.

SCBWI ($)
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. International organization with a strong online presence, including challenges, webinars hosted by regional chapters but open to all, and active discussion boards on all topics of interest to children’s writers and illustrators.

Storyteller Academy ($)
Online courses taught by a variety of professionals, related to writing and illustrating for children.  Hosted by Arree Chung.

SubSix (free)
Children’s Book Creatives Support Group. Facebook group of children’s writers and illustrators working toward submission goals. 

Writing Blueprints ($)
On-demand webinars and resources. Each Writing Blueprint takes a particular genre or category of book and breaks the process of writing and revising it into tiny steps. Each step then features a video with an expert instructor describing this piece of the writing puzzle and giving instructions about using the fillable PDF form for that step. From Children’s Book Insider.

Complete Month by Month Listings
IMG_4972

The Adventure Writers Competition ($) A competition for action packed adventure novels. Receive feedback on your manuscript, be considered for publication by Braveship Books, cash prize. Submissions open January 1st, 2021.

A Woman’s Write ($) an international novel contest. Enter an unpublished novel! Every submission receives critique. Submissions open January 1st, 2021.

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. January 2, 2021.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript (MG and YA writers) January 4, 2021

NFFest Registration for 2021 event is January 15 – January 31 (see February listing)

2021 Kraken Book Prize($) January 15 – April 6 A contest hosted by Regal House Publishing for finely crafted middle grade. The winner receives $750 and a publishing contract!

2021 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.

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. Early bird registration for 2021 opened November 1st, 2020 and will close when full. 

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day, Wednesday, January 20th (see September listing) 

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

THE WRITING BARN COURSES ($)
Beyond Fact-Flinging: Essential Elements to Elevate Info Books
Join Acclaimed nonfiction author Heather L. Montgomery for a six-week deep dive into the essential elements that take your nonfiction project from boring to breakthrough! Six Sundays, January 17 – February 21, 2021, 6pm – 8pm Central Time.

Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award ($) Submit a completed manuscript by January 31st 2021 for unagented and unpublished. Pay an extra £5 for feedback from 4 readers (2 adults and 2 children). Winners receive prize money and trophy. January 31, 2021.

Book Pipeline Contest ($) has two contests, one for published books and one for unpublished manuscripts. The contest looks at the work for film and television adaptation by film and television producers. Accept nonfiction book proposals and fiction manuscripts

February
IMG_4973

#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge (free)
Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words. Dates to come for 2021. Hosted by author Vivian Kirkfield. 

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

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 by January 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.

#SFFpit (free) is a twitter pitch contest for fantasy and science fiction novels! (PB, MG, YA and adult!) Submit up to 10 tweets! February 3, 2021 from 8 am to 6 pm.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript (MG and YA writers) February 4, 2021.

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. February 6, 2021.

#FaithPitch (@Faith_Pitch) (free)
Twitter pitch party exclusively for the Christian Book Market (CBM). Check Twitter account for full details, hashtags, and rules. Hosted by publisher Little Lamb Books.

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 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, following prompt for the current year. Prize for the winner. Hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

WriteOnCon ($)
Online conference for kidlit writers and illustrators for all levels (PB, MG, YA). Friday, February 19 to Sunday, February 21, 2021.

March
Untitled_Artwork


#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge (free)
Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words. Dates to come. Hosted by author Vivian Kirkfield.

#PitMad (free) A twitter event to pitch completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. March 4, 2021 from 8 am to 8 pm.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript (MG and YA writers) March 4, 2021.

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. March 6, 2021.

Chapter Book Challenge #ChaBooCha (free)
Write one completed first draft of a chapter book in one month, from March 1 – March 31. Guest posts by authors and agents, prizes at end. Hosted by author Rebecca Fyfe.

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

Madness! Poetry (free)
“March Madness” tournament for writers of children’s poetry. Write up to six original poems based on prompt in three weeks. Full information here. Sign up to be notified when registration opens here (scroll to bottom). Hosted by kids’ poet Ed DeCaria of Think, Kid, Think!

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 – March 31. 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.

April
IMG_4975

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer receives feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript (MG and YA writers) April 4, 2021.

Spring Fling Writing Contest (free)
Challenge for writers, find a springtime-themed gif and write 150 words. April 1st through April 3rd. Hosted by Ciara O’Neal and Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez. Check out Fall Writing Frenzy, too.

2021 Kraken Book Prize($) Deadline April 6 A contest hosted by Regal House Publishing for finely crafted middle grade. The winner receives $750 and a publishing contract! Submission window (1/15-4/6)

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day Wednesday, April 7th. (see September listing)

Children’s Novel Writing Workshop ($)
New one-to-one 12-week chapter book, middle grade, or young adult novel overview and first chapter critique workshop taught by author and editor Anastasia Suen. April 7-June 23, 2021.

#RevPit (free) A twitter contest for querying authors to win feedback and edits on full manuscripts. April 10, 2021

#WriteMentor Summer Programme (free)
Mentee Applications are open April 15-17th for UK-based program pairing professionals in children’s literature with pre-agented writers for online summer mentorship.

The Adventure Writers Competition ($) A competition for action packed adventure novels. Receive feedback on your manuscript, be considered for publication by Braveship books, cash prize. Deadline April 30, 2021

May
IMG_4976

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

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. May 1, 2021.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript. May 4, 2021.

Craft Webinar: Using Your Anger to Write Multi-Layered Realistic Fiction with Ann Braden & Nancy Paulsen ($) The Writing Barn offers a webinar on May 19th from 1-2:30 pm in which Ann “takes the big topics that make her want to throw up her hands in frustration and turns them into concepts to explore in a story.” Learn how to grow a story with strong characters and plot from a theme!

Master Skills Workshop with Esteemed Editor Patti Gauch and Noted Author Gary D. Schmidt (Online class begins May 30th) Whale Rock Workshop presents a Master Skills Workshop for Middle Grade and Young Adult writers who are looking to dive deep into craft and take their writing to the next level. The class will include lectures, writing prompts, four 1-on-1 sessions, nightly readings, and special guests!

June
IMG_4977

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

#Kidlit Zombie Week (free)
Are you ready to bring your dead manuscripts back to life?  Join 6 Ladies and a MANuscript on Twitter (@6and_MANuscript ) for a week filled with inspiration, discussions, and great prizes! Took place in June in 2020; date to come for 2021.

Mix & Match Writing Challenge (free)
Every Monday for a month, 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. This new challenge took place in May and June of 2020. If it happens again in 2021, the info will be posted here! Hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

#FaithPitch (@Faith_Pitch) (free)
Twitter pitch party exclusively for the Christian Book Market (CBM). Check Twitter account for full details, hashtags, and rules. Hosted by publisher Little Lamb Books.

#PitMad (free)
Twitter pitch party for unagented authors and illustrators in all genres. June 2021 date to come.  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 committeeJune 3, 2021 from 8 am to 8 pm.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript June 4, 2021.

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. June 5, 2021.

Bath Children’s Novel Award ($) International writer competition for unpublished authors of CB, MG, and YA (no graphic novels). Cash prize, shortlist offered opportunity to be introduced to literary agent, most promising longlist winner opportunity to win 18 week online course This website also houses great resources on how to win a contest! June 15, 2021.

Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers (WIFYR) ($)
Originally in Utah, in 2020 this conference was via Zoom. A full week of workshops, classes, and community. More info as it becomes available.

The Acheven Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction ($) June 30 – September 30 is hosted by Regal House Publishing. It recognizes finely crafted YA fiction. Winners receive $750 and a publishing contract!

July
IMG_4978

Children’s Book Academy course ($)
Middle Grade Mastery begins in July. 

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. July 3, 2021.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript. July 4, 2021.

Children’s Book Boot Camp 2020 (CBBC) ($)
5 weeks, 3 sessions, 1 goal: To get your children’s book published! Work with Melissa Manlove of Chronicle books, Martha Rago of Random House, and Marietta B. Zacker of Galit & Zacker Literary Agency. Open to 10 participants only, 200-word sample and/or 3 illustrations needed to apply. For more information and to apply, email “write2me [at] patcummings.com”. 2020 details to come. Hosted by author Pat Cummings.

SCBWI Summer Spectacular Annual Summer Conference ($)
Traditionally held in late July and early August in downtown Los Angeles, the 2020 event was moved online due to the pandemic. When information about the 2021 event is available, this notice will be updated.

August
IMG_4979

Rate Your Story Writing Contest ($)
Categories for picture books and novels, prizes including access to industry professionals. Open to members and nonmembers. A portion of submission fees donated to worthy causes. Happened in August, 2020; info for 2021 will be added here when available.

Four on 400 (free) A monthly contest where 1 kidlit writer is selected to receive feedback on the opening 400 words of their manuscript. August 4, 2021.

September
IMG_4980

#PitMad (free)
Twitter pitch party for unagented authors and illustrators in all genres. September dates for 2021 to come. 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 committeeSeptember 2, 2021 from 8 am to 8 pm.

 First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. September 4, 2021.

The Acheven Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction ($) Deadline September 30 is hosted by Regal House Publishing. It recognizes finely crafted YA fiction. Winners receive $750 and a publishing contract! (Submission window 6/30-9/30)

ReVISIONweek  Wednesday, September 30th – October 6th

IMG_4981

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

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. October 2, 2021

#DVPit and #DVart  (free)
Twitter pitch party for historically underrepresented voices in children’s literature. Authors of Children’s & Teen Fiction/Nonfiction (picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult) use #DVpit; Artists & Illustrators use #DVart. October 2021 date to come. See website for more details. Created and moderated by literary agent Beth Phelan with assistance from authors Kat Cho and Claribel Ortega and agent Peter Knapp.

Fall Writing Frenzy (free)
Write 200 words inspired by one of the contest photos, and submit it during the specified times (to come for 2021). Prizes! Hosted by Lydia Lukidis and Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez.

Halloweensie Contest (free)
Write a 100-word Halloween story appropriate for ages 12 and under, following prompt for the current year. Prize for the winner. Hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

We Need Diverse Books Mentorships (free)
Pairs ten writers and illustrators who belong to underrepresented groups with experienced children’s book creators for year-long mentorships. Applications are open October 1 – 31 for the following year.

November
IMG_4982

NaNoWriMo (free) Take on this creative writing challenge to write a novel (50,000 word first draft). Receive support in the form of articles, join writing groups (online or in person), and inspiration from published authors. November 1 – November30, 2021.

The Caledonia Novel Award ($) An international award for unpublished and self-published novelists for adult and YA novels of at least 50,000 words. November 1, 2021.

First Five Pages Workshop (free) The first Saturday of each month (except April, August, and December). Enter the raffle for the chance to be one of five randomly chosen writers to receive feedback from writing mentors across three weeks. November 6, 2021.

A Woman’s Write ($) an international novel contest. Enter an unpublished novel! Every submission receives critique. Deadline November 30, 2021.


Black Friday Bootcamp ($)
Online one-day livestream writing conference. 100% of ticket sales go to support First Book and We Need Diverse Books. Hosted and organized by Storyteller Academy and author Arree Chung.

Debut Review Challenge (free)
October-November reading challenge continues. Hosted by children’s writer Laura Renauld.

#FaithPitch (@Faith_Pitch) (free)
Twitter pitch party exclusively for the Christian Book Market (CBM). Check Twitter account for full details, hashtags, and rules. Hosted by publisher Little Lamb Books.

Rate Your Story ($) (see January listing)
Registration open November through mid-January or until full. Annual membership fee includes manuscript critiques from professionals in the field, among other benefits.

SCBWI/Smithsonian Institution Nonfiction Workshop ($)
SCBWI’s first-ever nonfiction workshop with the Smithsonian was held online in November, 2020. Stay tuned to scbwi.org to find out if it will occur again in 2021.

December
IMG_4983

Holiday Writing Contest (free)
Write a holiday story between 300 – 400 words, appropriate for ages 12 and under, following prompt for the current year. Prize for the winner! Hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

#PitMad (free)
Twitter pitch party for unagented authors and illustrators in all genres, happening Thursday, December 2, 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.

Rate Your Story ($) (see January listing)
Registration open through mid-January. Annual membership fee includes manuscript critiques from professionals in the field, among other benefits.


Thanks to EVERYONE who contributed, including members of Writers’ Rumpus and the Facebook groups for 12×12, Children’s Book Academy, KidLit 411, and Picture Book Summitteers. Special thanks to Silvia Liu of KidLit411 and to authors Anna Maledon and Rachel Funez, whose extensive lists included several unique additions.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s