This course, designed for those interested in creating fiction and poetry for young readers, focused on both theory and praxis. Students encountered and discussed the idea systems that constitute and shape children’s literature and childhood in contemporary Western cultures. We also built the practical tools necessary to create persuasive and marketable narratives. Throughout the semester, students practiced writing and revising in multiple genres and ultimately developed a final project of their own: either a complete picture book manuscript, or an outline and several chapters of a middle grade or YA novel.


A few of the questions we considered:


  • How is writing for young people different than writing for adults?

  • What assumptions about children interfere with our ability to write compelling literature for them?

  • What’s the difference between middle grade and young adult? What are the current trends in children’s literature, and what do agents and editors want in a manuscript?

  • What elements make a successful book?

  • How is creative work critical (academic), and how is critical (academic) work creative?




Writing for Children

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) as imagined by artist Noelle Stevenson