Writing for Children: How to Write a Children's Book, Writing for Magazines, Getting Paid for Writing, Getting Published

Do you want to learn how to write a children's book? Make money writing for children's magazines? Every Friday the Writing for Children podcast publishes from The Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1969, ICL has taught over 470,205 aspiring writers. Listen to the director of both The Institute for Writers and The Institute of Children's Literature and bestselling children's author Katie Davis host the show as she focuses on the craft of writing for children. She talks about how to write a children’s book, how to write for children’s magazines, how to get paid for your writing, and how to get published in the world of kidlit. There are listener questions, with answers from the experts at the Institute, plus hard-to-find resources, tips, and links included in every week's show notes.
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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 24, 2016

Picture Books 101 | Writing for Children 005

Picture books are a marriage of two totally different story telling styles. The writer tells a story in words––either prose or verse. The illustrator tells his or her own story in pictures. And the two story styles together bring something deeper and richer than either could do alone. Even though the author and illustrator usually don’t interact, the story is truly something created by both. The book at the end isn’t the author’s book or the illustrator’s book; it belongs to them both.

Listen to the episode for more info!

This week’s links and bonus links:

-Picture Book Summit 2016: The first online picture book conference.

My pores are oozing with information and inspiration. Many thanks for all the work that went into bringing us such a wonderful conference.”       ––Merry Haugen Bradshaw

-Check out the show notes for Episode 004 which includes a link to the Twitter Picture Book Pitch Fest where you can…wait for it…pitch to agents on Twitter!

-Writing for Young Children Cheat Sheet This week’s listener question is asked by Keri: “How do you get important messages across in a book for children without sounding too preachy?

Download the show notes at


CONTEST: We have our ongoing writing for children contest right now with $1,300 in cash prizes. Check it out!

GIVEAWAY: To celebrate the launch of the show we’re having a random drawing for two $918 writers bundles!

QUESTIONS: Don’t forget to leave your questions: The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question HERE at

Jun 16, 2016

Why is Episode 4 of Writing for Children called

“Don’t Tell Us a Story?”

One of the toughest things for newer writers to learn to do is create a story. A story is a specific kind of thing. It isn’t a synopsis, like the work stories you tell over the dinner table. It isn’t a vignette, like the funny story you tell of your daughter’s vocabulary gaffe. Writers aren’t born knowing what a story really is. Stephen King once wrote about his lack of success selling one of his early story attempts. He couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t sell at the time. An editor finally told him that he was a talented writer but that the piece wasn’t a story. As Stephen King came to understand stories, he agreed.

So, what is a story? How do you know if the characters and circumstances you have created come together to make a story?

Listen to learn more!

The tips in the show notes which you can download at include:

Twitter Picture Book Pitch Party - Resources for Picture book Writers about Pitches, Agents, and Editors

A Twitter Pitch Party Calendar - Don’t miss a pitch party! This site has a whole calendar of pitch parties for all different genres and the appropriate hashtags for the parties.

YouTube Video on Why Writers Need Social Media 

Twitter for Beginners - Specifically for writers who need help getting started on Twitter.

Our listener question of the week is from Kimberley Moran, who asks,

“How do you know when you’ve hit the right audience age range? Do you need to have kids in that age group or just read a lot of books targeted to that age?

The Institute of Children’s Literature faculty answers!

You can ask your question at

Have feedback? Leave us a review HERE on iTunes!

Jun 11, 2016

In this, Episode 3 of the Writing for Children podcast, we discuss

Creating Characters for Children’s Magazines.


One thing children are not very forgiving of is a shallow, or poorly thought out character.

Characters who vacillate between being too babyish and too adult are common in the

manuscripts of new writers. So are generic characters with no real personality. Writing a

character, especially a protagonist, is a bit like taking on an acting role. You must truly know

the character in order to flesh it out completely.


Listen to learn more!


The tips in the show notes which you can download at include:


Know What a Magazine WantsHighlights Foundation wisdom


Naming Your Character -  Character naming is important and author Susan Uhlig has some resources to help.


What's Your Character Thinking?

Have trouble knowing how to handle a character's thoughts in your story––here’s help.


Our listener question of the week is from Kimberley Moran, who asks,


“How do you know when you’ve hit the right audience age range? Do you need to have kids in that age group or just read a lot of books targeted to that age?


The Institute of Children’s Literature faculty answers!


You can ask your question at

Jun 11, 2016

Non fiction can sound like nonfun to a kid. (Loosely quoting Andrea Davis Pinkney at Picture Book Summit). In this episode we discuss the many wonderful things that should go into good nonfiction for children: great ideas, careful research, excitement, humor, and an understanding of your audience. But most of the elements of good nonfiction can be boiled down to three key elements: focus, vitality, and appeal.

In the show notes you'll get a link to 10 mistakes writers don't use, how to write tips, and a link to a great article that you'll want to bookmark for when you're choosing character names.

Our listener question of the week is from Robyn Campbell, who asks, "Can you explain the importance of stressed and unstressed syllables in prose picture books to help guide the rhythm. Can you explain it? (Better than I just did!)

Our ICL faculty answers!


Jun 11, 2016

Welcome to the first episode of Writing for Children, a show focusing on the craft of writing for children. We'll have tips and links to great resources for children’s writers, whether you write for pre-k, mg, teens, books or magazines.

The weekly downloadable transcripts are included in the show notes and have extra tips and links! There's a weekly Q&A, and if your question is featured on the show, you’ll get a gift!

If you want to be a part of the launch celebration, go to

This week's listener question comes from Shauna, who asks, "I'm just starting out in this process and feel I have some great ideas, but just don't know where to start in the whole publishing thing. What is the first step to getting published, other than the writing itself?"

One of the Institute of Children's Literature faculty answers.

We also cover nine critique group tips and links to hot resources and info-packed sites for children's writers.



Jun 5, 2016

The Writing for Children podcast has launched!

Here is what you’ll get out of this show every Friday:


It’s short, easy to consume, yet jam-packed with content If you’re writing for children. Doesn’t matter if the children you’re writing for are pre-k, elementary school age, middle grade, or YA, this is a great show for you to listen to. We’ll be focusing on craft. Some of the episodes we’ve already done


Some of the ones we have in store for you are Episode 001-Write a Children's Book What's Your Idea, 006-Holiday and Seasonal Material and coming up, 009-Creating Characters for Young Children, 010-Unusual Story Forms. 

We also have downloadable show notes every week with the transcript, plus, linked tips and hard to find resources.


We even answer your writer questions in our weekly listener question of the week segment, answered by the Institute of Children’s literature faculty.


We’d love it if you’d subscribe and leave your review, too.