If you’re thinking about writing your first children’s book but are not sure where to start. What sort of story should it be? What age group should you target? How will you know if children will like your story? We found some great free online courses that will answer these questions and more.

Get started.

Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest

Join over 85,000 other aspiring writers who have enrolled for this course over the last few years and take your passion for writing children’s books to the next level – action.

Through five modules, designed to take one week each, this course offers instruction with a combination of video lectures, online readings, peer reviews, and guest appearances from world-renowned children’s authors.

One of the great things about having so many students enroll is the community created. You will be able to give and receive feedback from other writers which adds to the wealth of the learning experience.

During the course, you will develop ten to twelve extracts of writing which can be the starting point for your first book projects.

Course outline:

  • Your Writing Identity
  • Genre, Form, and Audience
  • Structure
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Publishing

Instructors: David Hill, Maria Gill, Alex Alexandrou

More info: Writing For Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest

Children’s Books 101: Writing for the Right Age Group

One of the challenges for new writers of children’s books is figuring out what sort of story to write for a particular age group. This course was designed to help clear this up.

Some of the stuff you will learn:

  • An introduction to the children’s book market
  • What publishers are looking for in children’s books for different ages
  • Industry standards for books in all categories including appropriate content, word count, and illustration requirements
  • How to give yourself the best chance of landing a publisher.

Instructor: Anna Bowles
More info: Children’s Books 101: Writing for the Right Age Group

Exploring books for children: words and pictures

This course is offered via open.edu so you can take it without even signing up if you wish. Signing up lets you track your progress, earn a free statement of participation, and access all course quizzes and activities.

It was designed to help new children's book authors understand the art of using pictures to delight, inspire and educate young ones.

"You will learn how children’s books use words and pictures together in remarkably sophisticated ways to communicate both to young and older readers, drawing on examples from the classics, such as Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit, and from contemporary children’s authors such as Anthony Browne, author of Gorilla."

Course outline:

  • Words and pictures in children’s fiction through the ages
  • Making sense of pictures
  • Combining words and pictures
  • Book design and intended readership
  • Illustration
  • Illustration as interpretation: the example of Alice
  • Analyzing images: composition and symbolism

Instructors: Sharon Goodman, Philip Seargeant, and Jackie Tuck
More info: Exploring books for children: words and pictures

Bonus Blog Post

How to write a children's book by Judy Blume
This post includes 5 Different Types of Children’s Books,7 Things to Consider Before Writing a Children’s Book, and 4 Tips for Writing a Children’s Book.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Team VoW
Author: Team VoW

Valley of Writers provides resources, tools, ideas and training for new writers. We work with a writers and contributors based around the world. Our primary focus is to equip new writers with skills to help them reach new audiences and achieve their goals.

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Coursera Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest is not free but $49.