6 Week Class: Picture Book Nonfiction: Style & Substance

Date(s): Starts June 11, 2017 03:00 PM - 06:00 PM – 6 classes over 8 weeks, Sunday's 3pm to 6pm *skipping 6/18 and 7/2 for Father's Day and Independence Day sessions
Cost: $375; $386.50 via PayPal. To pay via check, email [email protected]
Faculty: Donna Jannell Bowman
Maximum Class Size: 15
Pay Online:

We are thrilled to offer a second annual summer session on Picture Book Nonfiction. This broad category of the growing picture book market includes picture book biographies, work for hire projects, texts centering on the natural world, science and more.

Join acclaimed author Donna Jannell Bowman for this six-week class where attendees will dig deep into the style and substance of today’s creative non-fiction for children, paying particular attention to picture book biographies.

The 6 week class will cover:

  • Choosing a pb bio subject/or letting the pb bio subject pick you

  • Research: gathering materials, narrowing the materials, etc

  • Creating a through-line with child audience and gate keeper appeal

  • Structuring the pb bio: chronological, non-linear, or untold life event/anecdote

  • Work-for-hire opportunities in non-fiction series

  • Exploring the natural world: science, seasons, animals, etc.


Over the course of the 6 weeks, 4 weeks will be spent on the study of picture book biographies and each student will choose a subject, research, and draft a picture book biography during the class. The picture book biography drafts will be workshopped in the last class, complete with written feedback from Donna, a published and acclaimed non-fiction author, allowing for ample time to shape the manuscripts.


Who Should Take This Class

  • Writers interested in learning about the nonfiction children’s market
  • Writers interested in drafting a picture book biography
  • Writers who previously took PB Nonfiction and want to learn at the hands of a new instructor
  • Writers who attended PB Biographies: How Creative is Too Creative
  • Writers looking for community and insight into their work



What past 6 week picture book students have said:

“I wouldn’t be this far along in my writing journey without the foundation laid by these courses (Perfecting the Picture Book I and II). Plus, through these courses I met the writers who have become my friends and best readers.”  Michelle Fandrich

“If you’re serious about a career in this business, get thee to the Writing Barn! “  Cate Berry, signed with agent Alexandra Penfold of Upstart Crow after PB I and II, and two PB intensives


Classes will be Sunday afternoons 3 to 6 pm:  June 11, skip June 18–Father’s Day, June 25, Skip July 2nd, July 9, July 16, July 23, July 30   

Class size is limited so REGISTER NOW!



Donna Janell Bowman is the Texas author of books for trade and education publishers as well as articles and short stories in nationally acclaimed children’s magazines including Cricket and Odyssey. Her newly-released picture book biography, STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS (Lee and Low, October 2016), illustrated by Daniel Minter, has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection, an ALA Notable book, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book, and it earned starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. Two additional picture book biographies are forthcoming: EN GARDE! ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS (Peachtree, spring 2018), and KING OF THE TIGHTROPE: THE GREAT BLONDIN (Peachtree, spring 2019). Other nonfiction and fiction projects are in process. Donna has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is represented by Erin Murphy—Erin Murphy Literary Agency.



Acclaim for Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness

Outstanding Merit in the Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year list.

2017 ALA/ALSC Notable Children’s Book

2017 Essex Recommended books for Black History Month

2016 Cybils finalist! 

Betsy Bird’s “Best Nonfiction Picture Books” list of 2016.

2017 Orbis Pictus Recommended Book by NCTE!

2016 Booklist Editor’s Choice