ICL - Writing for Children and Teens

Are you searching for a writing course that gives you personalized, professional, one-on-one mentoring?

This is your course.

Are you looking for a course that allows you to set your own pace?
A course to help you both write and sell your work in the current publishing market?
Do you want a course that gives you real textbooks and guides that maintain their value for years to come?

This is your course.

Do you want a course that has been scrutinized and certified by the board of higher education?
Do you want college credits?
Do you want a course that has enabled scores of graduates to publish (often while still enrolled)?

This is your course.

Students enrolled in Writing for Children and Teens benefit from a proven process that challenges their imagination in every lesson, assignment, and question asked. Your one-on-one instructor will teach you the essential elements of writing for young readers and help you prepare marketable work for publishers and editors. Together, you will explore what inspires you, and then get you writing.

When an author shares a new, fantastic world in the pages of their book, young readers can begin to see their own world a bit differently.

This is your course. Share your stories. It’s time.

The effectiveness of this course comes from the highly personal relationship between student and instructor in a unique system unavailable anywhere else. The instructor develops a teaching plan for each student’s beginning level of skill, and they work as a team to achieve the student’s objectives.

When you enroll, you’ll complete a character study, a descriptive sketch, professional query letters to editors, five story or article manuscripts, and the opening chapters of a book—all by the time you graduate.

While we can’t promise you will be published, we believe ours is the best, most effective instruction available in the creative development and preparation of your writing for publication.

Two Ways to Enroll

If you’re wondering if you have what it takes to write for today's children's book market, take the Institute’s Writing Aptitude Test. For 50 years, our test has been a reliable bellwether of a student’s success in our course. Professional educators evaluate each test and the results are sent to you by US Mail. Writers who show promise may then enroll online or by phone/fax/mail.

Part 1 – Getting Started

Learn how to write by working with three different but interconnected and complementary resources: (1) your own creative efforts; (2) commentary, editorial notations, and guidance from your instructor; and (3) your study of the work of established authors.

The instruction starts right away. Autobiographical sketches and short stories give your instructor material to evaluate. Based on your skill level at the start, your instructor works with you to develop your strengths and correct your weaknesses, while creating a learning plan tailored to your aspirations and the background you bring to the course.

Each lesson builds on the last. Use your instructor’s notes and comments to you in Assignment 1, and your own analysis of the course materials, to take you into the next lesson establishing setting, creating action, and introducing characters. Use all your senses and your newly sharpened powers of observation in your next assignment.


Upon enrollment, you'll receive this 507-page course manual for Writing for Children and Teens is made up of three parts and four special sections.


In Part 1 of this course you will:
•    Analyze stories and identify the distinctive techniques and styles of each piece.
•    Submit autobiographical sketches and short stories for your instructor to evaluate and develop a personalized learning plan.
•    Learn methods of collecting ideas for stories and articles from the world around you. 
•    Learn how to produce a piece of writing with a life of its own.
•    Write a short article targeted to young readers in the growing nonfiction market.
•    Learn how to use fiction-writing techniques in your nonfiction to engage your readers.
•    Use specific techniques to observe, analyze, and listen for inspiration in the world around you.
•    Learn the methods successful authors use in creating convincing fictional characters.
•    Use behavior and dialogue to reveal motivation, tension, and conflict.
•    Create a three-dimensional child the reader can “hear,” “see,” and “touch” emotionally.
•    Create a fictional character inspired by a real child.
•    Build a story based on your new child character.

Then you have a choice: you can write another nonfiction article or revise one of your earlier assignments. In either case, you emulate professional practice by choosing a suitable magazine for your manuscript and following its guidelines.


Part 2 – Writing for the Market

In Part 2, you'll use these course books to tailor your work to today's market: 

  • Essentials of English - sharpen your skills related to grammar and writing style
  • Searching - a unique research guide for writers.
  • Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers - Make the best use of the latest edition of our yearly compilation of hundreds of periodicals that buy freelance material; it lists each publication’s editorial requirements, pay rates, age and interest groups, and contact information.
  • Book Markets for Children’s Writers - Take same analytic approach to the latest edition of this comprehensive listing and description of hundreds of publishers of children’s books.

All of these books are included in your tuition when you enroll.

As your assignments keep building upon the last, your writing takes on new dimension using techniques and insights shared by your instructor.

Your exploration of fiction and nonfiction markets means you now know the importance of tailoring your manuscript to publishers’ style and content requirements to increase the chances of acceptance. Outline multiple stories or articles for your instructor’s evaluation and commentary, as well as a choice of publishers. Your instructor selects your most promising idea. Develop it into a finished manuscript.

Your instructor takes on the role of editor or publisher (continuing also as your teacher and guide), because the job now is to prepare you to approach the publishing market as a freelance writer.


Your instructor edits your work and returns it for revision and polishing. It may then be ready to submit to the selected publication.


Part 3 - Choose Your Own Adventure

Your final assignment brings together all the skills you’ve been working on. Now it's time to take a deep dive into your manuscript.

Magazine Article - If it’s for the magazine market, you study Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers and tailor a story or article to fit the requirements of the publishers you select. Your instructor edits your work and evaluates its suitability for those markets or recommends alternatives.


A Children's Book - If your personal goal is a book, you’ll analyze publishers’ requirements as listed in your Book Markets for Children’s Writers, prepare an outline, write the full manuscript, and submit it to your instructor for review, if it is under 8,000 words. If it is more than 8,000 words, you’ll write the first three chapters to give your instructor enough material to evaluate the direction your book is taking. His or her final comments and suggestions will help you produce a complete manuscript that meets professional standards.

Two Ways to Enroll

By the time you finish your course, you will have completed the following work under the guidance of your personal instructor:

  • 10 send-in assignments ranging from 500-1,200 words each, which will be graded using our pass-fail grading policy.
  • One magazine manuscript of up to 1,500 words suitable to submit to a publisher or website, or one book manuscript of up to 8,000 words (or three chapters of a longer book) suitable to submit to a book publisher.
  • One nonfiction article aimed at younger readers or teens.
  • Three article/story outlines targeted to specific magazines and websites and slanted toward specific age/interest/length requirements.
  • The reading of each of the following:
        A. The Course Manual
        B. Two market directories
        C. A handbook on writing techniques
        D. A practical guide to fundamentals of writing
        E. One guide on research


When you have completed your send-in assignments and fully paid your tuition, you will receive the Institute’s diploma bearing your name and the date of your satisfactory completion of the course. 


College Credits and Professional Development Hours

The Connecticut Board for State Academic Awards recommends that graduates of this course be awarded six college credits. No matter where you live, you can obtain these credits from Charter Oak State College–which functions under the credit-granting authority of the Connecticut Board–for a fee–any time within five years of your completion of the Institute’s course. You can have Charter Oak State College send a transcript of these credits to any college, university, or school board. TEACHERS: you may be able to receive professional development hours. Check with your district or school.

Tax Deductibility

The Internal Revenue Code permits the deduction as a business expense of tuition for education if it is designed to improve one's skills in the conduct of a trade or business. Writers, teachers, and others whose business skills are enhanced by the writing techniques developed in our program may qualify for a tax deduction. Consult your tax advisor to learn if you qualify.

Tuition Options

The tuition for Writing for Children and Teens can be paid through a monthly payment plan of $85 per month for 10 months with an initial payment of $104 payable on enrollment (USA only; contact us for international shipping costs). When you pay in full, the tuition is the lesser price of $895. The course tuition includes all personal instruction, required textbooks, reference materials, and sales taxes, where applicable.  Note: this tuition is effective through July 31, 2020.

Two Ways to Enroll

The greatest single value of this course is the experience and judgment of a personal instructor—a published author or seasoned editor who is on top of current writing standards and who knows how and where to guide you to reach your goals.

1. Once you enroll, we ship you a package containing your instructor’s welcoming letter, your textbooks, and all the materials for your assignments. After you complete the first assignment and email it to your instructor (using Microsoft Word), you start on the next one. Each assignment builds on the skills you acquired in previous assignments; you begin at a level well within your reach and gradually progress to professional- level assignments.

2. Your instructor reads your assignment and reviews copies of all your previous assignments and correspondence. These regular reviews enable him or her to focus on your background, interests, and goals in relation to your progress at each stage of the course.

3. Your instructor makes editorial comments directly on your manuscript, to show exactly what needs to be revised, strengthened, or rewritten—and why. Each edited assignment is returned to you with a personal letter from your instructor explaining the edits and recommending steps you can take to build your skills and strengthen any aspects of your writing that need attention.

4. When you receive your first edited manuscript and personal letter from your instructor, you’ll experience and understand the real meaning of a “one-on-one” relationship: a working professional teamed with you in pursuit of your personal writing goals. He or she sticks with you, through thick and thin, until you complete the course and have at least one manuscript suitable to submit to an editor or publisher.

Your instructor guides you from your first assignment to the day you complete the course. He or she fills the role of your private tutor, showing you how to draw upon your observations, imagination, and interests to write compelling stories and articles for children.

You are not simply told how to write; your instructor shows you how to shape and strengthen your writing, how to give it tension and immediacy, how to make it “come alive” to the reader. Then your instructor writes you a detailed, personal letter making specific recommendations.

Two Ways to Enroll


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