Picture Book Support

Do you write or illustrate picture books? Find support for your writing and illustrating 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.

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 picture book writers or illustrators? 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.

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

Illustration Friday (free)
Weekly challenge for illustrators with a new theme each week. 

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. 

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.

#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.

Picture Book University (free)
Series of lessons by picture book author Pam Calvert, on her blog.

Rate Your Story ($)
Annual membership fee includes manuscript critiques from professionals in the field, among other benefits. Sometimes holds open submission days with free critiques for nonmembers. Register by January 15, 2020, but may close earlier if full.

The Complete Picture Book Submissions System ($)
Takes you through each and every step of the submission process. No more fear. No more guesswork. Online course created by children’s authors Emma Walton Hamilton and Julie Hedlund.

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

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.

Make Your Marks & Splashes! ($)
Self-paced online course on how to be a children’s book illustrator, hosted by chldren’s author/illustrator Mark Mitchell.

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.

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 ($)
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.

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.

Society of Visual Storytelling ($)
Online courses for illustrators. Hosted by illustrators Will Terry, Lee White, and Jake Parker.

Storyteller Academy Intensives ($)
Online, on-demand courses taught by industry professionals. SAI also holds scheduled courses online with faculty and classes; see listings for January, May, and August. Hosted by writer/illustrator Arree Chung.

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

Rate Your Story ($)
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. Register by January 15, 2020 for a full-year membership, but may close earlier if full. 

Writing with the Stars (free)
Tara Luebbe’s popular program, pairing aspiring picture book writers and illustrators with published authors and illustrators for three-month mentorships, is on hiatus starting in 2020. Check the link above for updates. 

Complete Month by Month Listings

 

 

 

12×12 Picture Book Challenge ($)
Write 12 picture books in 12 months. Annual membership includes critique opportunities, monthly live webinars, and the support of the entire 12×12 community. Register between January 8 and February 29, 2020 for a full-year membership. Hosted by children’s author Julie Hedlund. 

Children’s Book Academy course ($)
The Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books begins January 13, 2020. Join Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquiring art director & senior designer Andrea Miller & Dr. Mira Reisberg, acquiring editor & art director at Clear Fork Publishing/Spork in this hands-on five-week adventure.

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

NFFest Registration from January 15 – 31 (see February listing)

Rate Your Story ($)
Manuscript critiques from professionals in the field, among other benefits. Sometimes holds open submission days with free critiques for nonmembers. Register by January 15, 2020 for a full-year membership, but may close earlier if full. 

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day January 22 (see September listing) 

Storystorm (free)
Come up with 30 story ideas in 31 days. Inspirational guest posts. Raffle of prizes for those who succeed. Register by January 7, 2020. Hosted by children’s author Tara Lazar.

Storyteller Academy ($)
Online courses taught by a variety of professionals, related to writing and illustrating for children. Term 1 courses start January 25 and end March 28, 2020. Hosted by Arree Chung.

February

 

 

 

12×12: Register by Feb 29 for 2020. See January listing.

#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge (free)
Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words. February 29 – March 5, 2020. Hosted by author Vivian Kirkfield. 

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.

#PBPitch (free)
A Twitter pitch party exclusively for picture books! Thursday, February 20, 8am to 8pm Eastern Time. Founded and run by Debra Kempf Shumaker, PJ McIlvaine, Mette Engell, and Mandy Yates. 

#FaithPitch (free)
Twitter pitch party for the Christian Book Market (CBM), including #hashtags for specific ages and genres. See link for exact dates this year.

Lyrical Language Lab ($)
Learn to make your picture books lyrical, whether or not they rhyme. New 10-week class starts February 3, 2020, taught by children’s authors Renee LaTulippe and Carrie Finison. Sign up for email list to receive information about self-study courses.

ReFoReMo registration opens. See March listing. (free)

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 Susan Leonard Hill.

WriteOnCon ($)
Online conference for kidlit writers and illustrators for all levels (PB, MG, YA). Friday February 21 – Sunday February 23, 2020.

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

March

 

 

#50PreciousWords Writing Challenge (free)
Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words. February 29 – March 5, 2020. Hosted by 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. Guest posts by authors and agents, prizes at end. Hosted by author Rebecca Fyfe.

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

ReFoReMo (free)
Reading For Research Month. Read 100 picture books chosen by kidlit professionals. Register for prizes. It’s like a free master class. Registration opens February 19. Hosted by our own Writers’ Rumpus children’s authors Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call.

The Ann Whitford Paul—Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award (See note*)
Submissions open Feb 1 – Apr 1. Annual monetary award given for a Most Promising Picture Book manuscript. *No application fee, but applicant must be a member of SCBWI, which requires dues.

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day March 4 (see September listing)

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!

Picture Book Party (free)
Submit the first 50 words of your picture book (or 100 words of chapter book) for consideration by participating editors and agents. Search the website at the link in February for this year’s announcement. Hosted by authors Michelle Hauck, Mindy Alyse Weiss, and Sharon Criscoe.

SCBWI Don Freeman Grants (See note*)
Submissions open March 1 – March 31. Annual awards given to illustrators of children’s books 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 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

 

 

 

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

Children’s Book Academy course ($)
The Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books begins April 6, 2020.

New Voices Award (free)
Submission window opens April 1, closes August 31. 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.

#DVPit and #DVart
Twitter pitch party for historically underrepresented voices in children’s literature. 2020 dates TBD as of this writing; 2019 kidlit events were in April and October. Created and moderated by literary agent Beth Phelan with assistance from authors Kat Cho and Claribel Ortega and agent Peter Knapp.

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

#WriteMentor Summer Programme (free)
Applications open for a few days in April for UK-based program pairing professionals in children’s literature with pre-agented writers for online summer mentorship.

May

 

 

 

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

National Picture Book Writing Week #NaPiBoWriWee  (free)
Write 7 Picture Books in 7 Days? YES! May 1 – 7 every year. Hosted by children’s book author Paula Yoo.

New Voices Award (free)
Submission window open, closes August 31. 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.

ReVISIONweek Tune-Up Day May 13 (see September listing)

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

Storyteller Academy ($)
Online courses taught by a variety of professionals, related to writing and illustrating for children. Term 2 courses start May 2 and end July 4, 2020. Hosted by Arree Chung.

June

 

 

 

New Voices Award (free)
Submission window open, closes August 31. 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.

#FaithPitch (free)
Twitter pitch party for the Christian Book Market (CBM), including #hashtags for specific ages and genres. See link for exact dates this year.

#PBChatMentorship (free)
Applications open mid-June, 2020. Mentorships with published picture book writers and illustrators for unpublished picture book writers and illustrators. See site for application and eligibility. Mentorships run from August 1 through November 1. Hosted by children’s writer Justin Colón.

#PBPitch (free)
A Twitter pitch party exclusively for picture books! Date to be announced.

July

 

 

 

 

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

New Voices Award (free)
Submission window open, closes August 31. 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.

#PBChatMentorship (free)
Applications closes mid-July, 2020. Mentorships with published picture book writers and illustrators for unpublished picture book writers and illustrators. See site for application and eligibility. Mentorships run from August 1 through November 1. Hosted by children’s writer Justin Colón.

August

 

 

 

New Voices Award (free)
Submission window closes August 31. 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.

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. Submit between August 1 and August 31, following submission guidelines. 

Storyteller Academy ($)
Online courses taught by a variety of professionals, related to writing and illustrating for children. Term 3 courses start August 22 and end October 24, 2020. Hosted by Arree Chung.

September

 

 

Picture Book Prize ($)
Picture Book Prize submission window opens September 1. Contest for unagented, unpublished PB writers. Prizes include consultations and critiques. Hosted by author Amy Sparkes, agent Julia Churchill, and Writing Magazine.

ReVISIONweek (free)
Revise your PB manuscripts that you wrote for challenges earlier in the year! Daily Quick-Read Crafty Tips and a raffle for prizes at the end. Tune up days in January, March, and May. Hosted by children’s authors Lauren H. Kerstein, Joana Pastro, Katie Frawley, Lynne Marie, Shannon Stocker, and Michal BaBay.

Smart Dummies (free)
Complete a picture book dummy in 30 days. September 1 – 30 each year. Hosted by writer/illustrator Dani Duck.

October

 

 

 

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

#DVPit and #DVart  (free)
Twitter pitch party for historically underrepresented voices in children’s literature. 2020 dates TBD as of this writing; 2019 kidlit was April and October. 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 a contests photo. Hosted by Lydia Lukidis and Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez. Check out Spring Fling Writing Contest, too.

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 Susan Leonard Hill.

Inktober (free)
Challenge to draw 31 illustrations in ink, in 31 days. Hosted by illustrator Jake Parker.

#PBPitch (free)
A Twitter pitch party exclusively for picture books! Date to be announced.

Picture Book Critique Fest#PBCritiqueFest (free)
A MASSIVE picture book critique giveaway, featuring 36 of the top authors, illustrators, and literary agents on the kidlit scene. Hosted by Brian Gehrlein, creator of Picture Book Spotlight.

Picture Book Summit ($)
Full-day writing conference live-streamed to your computer. Founded and hosted by Katie Davis of ICL (Institute for Children’s Literature), Julie Hedlund of 12 x 12, Emma Walton Hamilton of Just Write Children’s Books, and Laura Backes of Children’s Book Insider.

Picture Book Prize ($)
Picture Book Prize submission window closes Oct 31. Contest for unagented, unpublished PB writers. Prizes include consultations and critiques. Hosted by author Amy Sparkes, agent Julia Churchill, and Writing Magazine.

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 in October for the following year.

November

 

 


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.

#FaithPitch (free)
Twitter pitch party for the Christian Book Market (CBM), including #hashtags for specific ages and genres. See link for exact dates this year.

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

December

 

 

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 Susan Leonard Hill.

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

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