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2019 Children's Lit Conference

July 10-14 (5 days)

Workshops in Writing Picture Books, Middle Grade Fiction  
and Young Adult Novels


"If you're dreaming of becoming the next J. K. Rowling, we've got the perfect place for you—the Southampton Children's Literature Conference."   – School Library Journal

The Southampton Children's Lit Conference provides a unique forum in which to study and discuss the craft of writing for children.

World-renowned authors, illustrators and editors offer inspiration and guidance through workshops, lectures, group discussions and special presentations.

Open to new, established and aspiring writers, the Conference is located in the Hamptons at the Eastern End of New York's Long Island—a resort area of natural beauty.

The Children's Lit writing workshops are led by authors and editors of the first rank, and are the heart and soul of the conference experience.

Workshops meet daily for 3 hour sessions. Enrollment is limited to 12 students per workshop. 

  Feiffer Illustration


  • From Inspiration to Publication: The Essentials of A Picture Book

    A picture book isn’t just drawings depicting text, but images and words uniquely intertwined to create a story. This presentation teaches the fundamentals of picture books, from format, character development to basic storytelling.

    Internationally acclaimed author-illustrator   Dan Yaccarinohas published over 50 picture books, which have sold over 1.5 million copies, and he will share his experience of his 20+ years in creating books for children. Children the world over know Dan from his children's books ( Doug Unplugged, Five Little Pumpkins, Unloveable, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau ), to his Parent's Choice Award-winning animated TV series   Oswald  (Nick Jr), Emmy-winning Willa's Wild Life  (NBC and Qubo), and character designs for   The Backyardigans  (Nickelodeon), as well as his many illustrated toys, games, and other children's products. In addition to his own stories, Dan's bold, stylized illustrations add wit and energy to the work of such distinguished authors as Margaret Wise Brown, Jack Prelutsky, and Kevin Henkes.

    Dan's books have been translated into many languages and have inspired animated series, toys, ebooks, children's musicals, and video adaptations. People all over the world enjoy   Oswald,  Dan's animated series about the wonderfully whimsical world of a lovable octopus, which Time magazine chose as one of the top 6 shows to watch on cable.Animation Magazine hails him as "an American original."

    Dan's work has been recognized with a host of prestigious awards including the Bologna Ragazzi, The New York Times 10 Best Illustrated, ALA Notable, and the Parents Choice Award. Over 2.5 million of his books have been sold to date. His internationally recognized art style has earned him a large following in Japan, exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Bologna, and a visit to the White House. He is also a contributing children's book reviewer for the New York Times.

    Dan lives in New York City and creates his quirky characters and stories in his studio full of vintage toys.

  • Middle Grade Fiction

    Middle grade fiction is driven by unforgettable characters and vibrant voices. In this workshop, we’ll explore what makes a powerful, character-driven middle grade (or chapter book) narrative. Throughout, we’ll look at examples of enduring characters in children’s literature (think Ramona Quimby and Junie B. Jones!) and develop our own one-of-a-kind characters through in-class writing and exercises. We’ll also focus on plot and structure, considering how action and character development deepen and strengthen each other. Our workshop will include writing exercises, prompts, workshopping, and of course – every writer’s best friend – revising!

    Susan Tan is the author of the Cilla Lee Jenkins series for middle grade readers, including Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire (winner of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Children’s Book Honor Award), Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book is A Classic, and Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story. Like Cilla, Susan grew up in a mixed-race family. After earning her BA at Williams College, she earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she studied children's literature.

    She  was the 2015 Gish Jen Emerging Writers Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston,   and when she's not writing, crocheting, or reading, she can be found teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

  • I Hear Voices! Making the Voice of Your Protagonist Leap from the Page

    YA novels are often very voice-y. We need to grab our readers immediately, and a strong protagonist's voice can make the immediate connection that will keep readers turning pages. From novels like the award-winning Feed by MT Anderson, The Boy Book by E. Lockhart, and Marcelo and the Real World by Francisco Stork and so many others, a strong voice not only shapes your character but it can bring the entire story--and plot--to life. In this workshop we will work on strengthening the voice of our protagonists, and seeing how that process can help to fine tune a narrative arc and our prose with it!

    Donna Freitas   is the author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her novels for children and young adults include   The Survival Kit  (FSG, 2011), named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the winner of the Bookstar Award in Switzerland, and   This Gorgeous Game  (FSG, 2010), also named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults, a winner of the CCBC Choice Award, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best winner. Her novel,   The Possibilities of Sainthood  (FSG, 2008), received five starred reviews and many accolades, including: an Indie Next Kids' List Great Read, Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List. Donna has also published two middle grade companion novels with Scholastic,   Gold Medal Summer  (about a gymnast) and   Gold Medal Winter  (about an ice skater), which won a CCBC Choice Award. Her latest novel,   Unplugged,  the first in her sci-fi trilogy about two competing worlds, one real, one virtual, was published by HarperTeen. 

    Donna also writes non-fiction for adults. In 2008, she published   Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion  on America’s College Campuses with Oxford University Press, based on her national study about sex on campus. Her latest book is called   The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost   (Oxford, February 2017), and it is based on her research for a new study about social media and how it is effecting the ways we construct identity and sense of self, how we make meaning in the world, and navigate our relationships during college. In 2014 and 2015, Freitas conducted approximately 200 in-person interviews with college students at thirteen different colleges and universities, and collected nearly1000 online surveys about these subjects.

    Donna lectures at universities across the United States on her work about college students, most recently at Colby, Pepperdine, Harvard, and Yale. Over the years, she has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and she’s currently a non-resident research associate at the Center for Religion and Society at Notre Dame. Donna has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.    

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