Join award-winning writer Ellen Schecter as she shares her pleasure in writing books for children by showing YOU how you can do this too! 

Ellen will take us through the steps to choose a topic and work towards a finished manuscript. We’ll begin by re-entering the world as children experiencing with our five senses, then explore the variety of some of the best children’s books past and present. We will help you find the story, legend, or nonfiction subject for your manuscript while keeping the age of your chosen audience in mind. By the end of our three sessions, you should be able to leave with a well-developed manuscript you can later illustrate on your own if you desire.

What to Expect:


Remember how we lived in the world as small children? Come awaken your senses and be in the world again as a child: Cinnamon, mint, lemon, and chocolate; velvet and linen; crickets and violins, delicious scents, sights, textures, and tastes are a child’s entry into the world, and we’ll re-experience these together. Then we’ll use these sensory experiences as writing prompts to help trigger the first glimmers of your own book. We’ll end by listening with a child’s ears to some of the most valuable, beloved children’s books past and present.  We will then analyze how the author used sensory prompts to create an entire world with words. We’ll discuss the importance of knowing your audience (age, interests), genre (fiction? non-fiction? poetry?). You’ll leave buzzing with ideas for your own book. 


We will first establish a safe, constructive place for discussing each other’s work. What’s constructive?  Say what works, what you like, what effectively tells the story or conveys information. Avoid anything negative. Writers grow from positive feedback, not critical comments. This will sustain our positive, supportive atmosphere so everyone continues to grow as a writer.  

What is your subject? Who is your audience? What meanings do you hope to convey to them? What writing style should you choose: prose, verse, simple captions, graphic comic format? Does your format/style match your age group? What’s important to keep in mind about the number of words per page—does it correspond to your audience’s attention span? How do page turns help convey your mood and message? Use these questions as you begin to shape your book.

We will use this session for you to begin outlining and/or writing your manuscript. Ellen will be available for individual consultation, and we will break for general questions if desired. (We could break into small groups for discussion, depending on the size and desires of the class.) Before we leave, everyone should be excited about at least one idea to work on at home before we meet again.


Those who wish will be invited to read their work to the class. Hopefully, you will feel enthusiastic enough to take your turn in this supportive atmosphere to hear final appreciation and constructive suggestions so you can write finishing touches at home. If you plan to illustrate your book, you might ask us to help brainstorm possible effective methods.

You will leave inspired to polish your book at home, and to then read it to a beloved child.

In Person course at the Easton Family YMCA (no recording) | 3 sessions | Tuesdays | Oct 31, Nov 7, 14 | 10 am – 11:30 am | $40

Ellen Schecter 2

Ellen Schecter. Ph.D.

Ellen Schecter has published more than 20 books (Viking, Hyperion, HarperCollins, Bantam Doubleday Dell, and Scholastic). Her memoir, ”Fierce Joy” (Greenpoint Press), was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer award. “The Big Idea” won the Américas Award for Children’s and YA Literature. She wrote or collaborated on many award-winning TV series for children and families including: Reading Rainbow and The Magic School Bus. She holds an M.A. in English and Comparative Literature from City University of New York and an honorary Doctor of Letters from Arcadia University.

Share this course
Related Courses You Might Enjoy
American Visionary Art
Olivia 1

Amy Bondurant and David Dunn


Adrianne Lasker

Chesapeake Forum Course Categories – Something for Everyone!