Summer Children’s Literature Workshops

Children's Literature and Illustration

Hollins University’s graduate programs in children’s literature are renowned for their emphasis on the study, writing, and illustration of work in that field. During the summer of 2020, the program is offering a wide array of intensive workshops for teachers and librarians, aspiring authors and illustrators, and alumnae/i of Hollins’ undergraduate and graduate programs. Whether you want to grow your skills as a picture book creator, scholar, or selector, or would like to enhance your ability to write for children, these workshops offer practical guidance through the expertise of accomplished artists and authors.

Picture Book Trends: A Curated Reading Workshop
Instructor: Elizabeth Dulemba
Monday, June 8 – Friday, June 12, 2020

Are you a teacher or librarian overwhelmed by the prospect of picking out the best new picture books for your young readers? Are you a creator who needs to stay on top of today’s picture book marketplace? If so, let this expert guide you on a curated reading journey. Over the course of five days, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba will work you through the picture book submissions for the annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize and other best-sellers, covering current themes and trends, and pointing out the written and visual tricks that make them popular, successful, and beloved. By the end of the week, you will have a solid grasp of the current picture book landscape to better prepare you to recommend books to others or create them yourself.

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Creating a Picture Book Workshop
Instructor: John Gurney
Monday, June 8 – Saturday, June 13, 2020

Everyone can remember that special childhood picture book— a beloved story read over and over, the pictures examined and reexamined for special details. This workshop by author/illustrator John Gurney outlines the fundamentals of writing picture books and learning to think visually as a picture book creator. Students will create simple storyboards to help with the process of writing and revising a picture book manuscript. Everyone will then create a book dummy with the text placed on the page, with the emphasis on pacing the story for appropriate page turns, adding simple sketches or picture descriptions.

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Writing Memoir/Family Stories: A Workshop for Hollins Alums (and their Friends)
Instructor: Nancy Ruth Patterson
Tuesday, June 16 – Sunday, June 21, 2020

Has a child you love ever begged for a story about the olden days when you were a kid? Have you ever considered turning your favorite childhood memory or another family story into a children’s book?

Nancy Ruth Patterson is bringing to Hollins a workshop in turning those memories into manuscripts. She has taught this workshop at the University of Virginia, delivered it frequently to guests at famous resorts such as The Greenbrier and The Homestead, and shared it as a writer-in-residence on the QE2. She’ll help you find just the right words to immortalize on paper the people, places, adventures, and lessons that have helped shape your life story. You’ll also see how those memories come in handy as you begin to write fiction for children.

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Novel Intensive: From Premise to Plot: A Field Guide to Your Novel –
A Workshop for Children’s and YA Book Writers
Instructor: Candice Ransom
Monday, June 22 – Friday, June 26, 2020

You want to write your first middle grade, young adult novel, or a chapter book. Or you have an idea for your second novel, but you’re feeling wobbly. How do you overcome new novel jitters or second (or tenth) novel nerves?

Each book we write comes with its own rules. Each story presents unique challenges and demands. We don’t have to wait for characters to speak and a plot to show up. We can steer through the process confidently by creating a field guide tailored to individual styles and specific writing goals. These guides will draw upon our own lives and observations, which give rise to our richest images, and help prevent the tedium of reinventing the wheel with each new book.

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Introduction to Writing for Children: A Workshop for Hollins Alums (and their Friends)
Instructor: Nancy Ruth Patterson
Friday, June 26 – Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Do you dream about writing a children’s book, but don’t know where to begin? Let six days at the internationally-respected Hollins University graduate program in children’s literature show you how to wake up from that dream and get started. Designed to introduce you to everything you ever wanted to know about writing for children, from brainstorming to book signing, this workshop will nurture you through your first steps.

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The Politics of Fanfiction: A Workshop for Critics and Writers
Instructor: Amanda Firestone, Ph.D.
Monday, June 29 – Friday, July 3, 2020

Sometimes, when the last words are read and the final pages are turned, we wish that a story would just go on forever. Sometimes we wish that we could know what peripheral characters are doing while the heroes go on the quest. And sometimes, we wish we could fix a plot hole so gaping that a high-speed train could whoosh through it. Through the controversial writing practice known as fanfiction, all of these wishes—and many more—become possible in ways that Professor Amanda Firestone will teach in this compelling workshop.

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Fiction, Nonfiction, and the Spaces Between: Harnessing the Forces of Reality to Speak to Readers: A Workshop for Writers
Instructor: Uma Krishnaswami
Monday, July 6 – Thursday, July 9, 2020

In our time, we must write to give our readers the ability to create meaning, think critically, and take stands in their own lives. In a time when truth is malleable and reality sometimes seems unreal, where do the boundaries lie between fiction and nonfiction? How do you decide which form is best for your story? How do you use reality to support compelling fiction? What tools of fiction writing can help you create vital, unique nonfiction? And what about you, the writer? What is your stance relative to the material that draws you to a project? How do you shape and modulate your voice and presence in the story you are trying to tell? Explore these questions and raise your own in this trek across the landscape of genres that are too often seen as mutually exclusive.

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Navigating Watercolor: A Master Class
Instructor: E. B. Lewis
Monday, July 13 – Friday, July 17, 2020

If you are a children’s book illustrator seeking to perfect your watercolor planning and composition, an artist still learning how to control colors and values, or an art teacher hoping to improve your pedagogy, this workshop with a master of the craft is sure to help you toward your goals. E.B. Lewis has designed the week of instruction with the sensitive layering techniques of watercolor in mind. Starting with the fundamentals, each technique will build in a clear and understandable way.

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Next Steps: Revising a Work in Progress – A Workshop for Hollins Writers (and their Friends)
Instructor: Nancy Ruth Patterson
Tuesday, July 14 – Sunday, July 19, 2020

This workshop is for serious writers who have made significant progress in drafting a chapter book or novel for young readers. Previous Hollins revision workshops led by this instructor have included all of the following:

  • Published Hollins writers in search of their next book;
  • Students tackling a creative thesis for the Hollins graduate program;
  • Writers returning from previous Hollins Summer Writing Workshops;
  • Hollins alumnae polishing a manuscript for submission to agents and editors;
  • Writers new to Hollins programs and admitted on the basis of sample chapters from their WIP.

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