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Writing for Children Short Course

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Covid-19 update: The learning doesn’t have to stop, join our online community. We will be delivering courses remotely until further notice. Live tutor support and virtual lessons will take place during advertised teaching hours. The classes are taught in small groups, so you’ll get lots of support from your tutor. Book now.

An ideal introduction to the world of children’s story writing; students gain confidence and learn to turn their ideas into exciting and creative children’s fiction.

Why choose this course?

Whether you want to publish your work or write stories just for your own children, City's Writing for Children short course delivers a comprehensive introduction to the subject, covering several areas and ages.

Over the course of 10 weekly evening classes you will learn how to apply theoretical knowledge to practical writing tasks and learn more about the market for children’s books and how to succeed as a children’s writer.

Taught from our central London location, the course offers flexibility and expert tuition.

Course overview

This Introductory Writing for Children short course is for students who would like to write books for children aged 3-16.

The first part will focus on learning writing techniques in the context of children’s books, covering a range of areas including gathering ideas, characterisation, settings, and dialogue. We will examine how to tackle books for different age ranges, from picture books to Young Adult.

The second part will look at plotting and structure, point of view, pace and editing as well as what publishers and agents are looking for.
Each week students will tackle writing exercises and there will be some element of sharing work. We will also look at texts from a variety of published children’s authors.

By the end of the Children's Writing evening course, students should have a strong grasp of what it takes to succeed in the tough but rewarding world of writing for children.

  • “ The tutoring was excellent. ”

    Geoff Prout

    Former student

  • “ I have really enjoyed the course - I now begin to understand the nuts and bolts of a story in a way that I had never before grasped. I can now have an initial idea, draft a workable plot (sort of ...) and slowly start moving the story along - none of which I could do 10 weeks ago. The course has been well-structured, encouraging and informative. I have found it immensely helpful. ”

    Janice Taylor

    Former student

  • “ It was a great course. Sophia is a great tutor, very eloquently spoken and clearly knows her subject ”

    Jessica Smith

    Former student

  • “ I wish I did this course years ago, when I first started writing. ”


    Former student

  • “ Sophia is an excellent teacher and her knowledge of the children’s book market seems endless! She is engaging and paced the course excellently. ”


    Former student

  • “ Great overall course covering all the basics of children’s writing. Really inspiring. Sophia is very engaging, really thoughtful in her responses to questions and work, and really encouraging. ”


    Former student

  • “ Sophia is a brilliant, passionate, engaging and open teacher. What I liked most is the sense she gave that being a writer is an entirely possible choice for all of us – with a bit of hard work and knowledge. ”


    Former student

  • “ I really enjoyed the course and felt it built in a logical way that helped me understand everything easily. Listening to everyone and having feedback [on my work] was very beneficial. ”


    Former student

  • “ Fantastic! It was exactly what I was looking for…I now know I can bring my characters to life. Some excellent teaching tools ”

    Johnathan Chalmers

    Former student

  • “ I thought the course was very thorough, engaging and I learned a great deal. Thank you so much ”

    James Stevens

    Former student

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

Over the course of 10 weekly evening classes on the Writing for Children short course, you will learn:

  • Understand the market - who exactly are you writing for?
  • Identify what works about successful stories, across a range of texts;
  • Create strong settings, stand-out characters and convincing dialogue;
  • Build pace and structure into your work;
  • Learn how to use descriptions that will bring your writing to life;
  • Edit and revise your writing, including when to cut;
  • Understand what agents and publishers are looking for in a publishable manuscript - the practicalities as well as the indefinable 'it';
  • How to submit your work to publishing professionals.



Prerequisite knowledge

This course is open to anyone interested in writing for children.

English requirements

Good written and spoken English.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

Picture books

  • Klassen, J. (2012) I Want My Hat Back. London: Walker Books
  • Donaldson, J. (2016) The Gruffalo/The Snail and the Whale London: MacMillan Children's Books
  • Haughton, C (2012) Oh No, George!: Walker Books
  • Sendak, M (1963 and 1992) Where the Wild Things Are: Picture Lions

Chapter books and Middle Grade

  • Nadin, J. (2020) The Worst Class in the World: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
  • Stanton, A. (2011) Mr Gum. Dean & Son
  • Cottrell Boyce, F (2008) Cosmic: Macmillan Children’s Books
  • Child, L (1999) Clarice Bean, That’s Me: Orchard Books
  • Rundell, K (2013) Rooftoppers, Faber and Faber
  • Wheatle Alex, Crongton Knights, 2016, Atom

Young Adult

  • Lockhart E. (2013) We Were Liars, Hot Key Books
  • Pullman, P (1995) Northern Lights, Scholastic, UK
  • Lawrence, P. (2016) Orangeboy . London: Hodder Children’s Books
  • Rosoff, M. (2005) How I Live Now. London: Penguin

Reading on Writing

  • Lamott, A (1995) Bird by Bird, Anchor Books
  • Yorke, J (2008) Into the Woods, Penguin Books
  • Spufford, F (2002) The Child that Books Built, Faber and Faber
  • Pullman, P (2017), Dæmon Voices, David Fickling Books
  • Kole, Mary (2012), Writing Irresistible Kidlit, Writers’ Digest Books

Tutor information

  • Anna Wilson

    Anna Wilson started out as a picture book editor at Macmillan Children’s Books and went on to be an editor at HarperCollins. She has published over 50 books for children and young teens including picture books, short stories, poems, fiction series and non-fiction titles.

    Anna was a tutor and Associate Lecturer at Bath Spa University for seven years. She also has extensive experience in running writing workshops in schools and is a tutor for the Arvon Foundation, the London Lit Lab and the Writers’ Block in Cornwall.

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