This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others. 

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Story Writing: How to Write a Children’s Book– Picture Books, Readers, Chapter Books, and Middle-Grade Stories (X-21)

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to write a children’s book, then this course is for you! Learn how stories are put together – from picture books to early-readers to middle-grade novels – and learn how to write your own stories, too.

Total classes: 12

Prerequisite: Recommended: The Aquinas Writing Advantage MS 7/8 Series or HS 9 Series courses.

Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade 

Suggested credit: One (1) semester’s credit for Writing or English 

Special notes: This fun and engaging entry-level fiction course can be taken at the same time as any other writing course. Also, this course is not a replacement for any of the AWA foundational writing courses but instead is an “above-and-beyond” course. Click here to learn more about the AWA foundational writing courses.


Have you ever wondered what goes into writing a children’s book? Children’s books are a form of story writing with specific elements and qualities, and there are many different levels of children’s book writing: toddler books, picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle-grade novels, and graphic novels. In this course, you’ll learn these types of books and all the elements that go into writing for children, including the rules, guidelines, and tips for creating memorable children’s stories. Each week, along with learning the components of story writing, you’ll hear first-hand from real, published authors on how they wrote and published their books. You’ll also discover how to translate emotional elements into story; the inter-relationship of illustrations and words in children’s books; and best practices for writing engaging children’s literature. We’ll also dig into writing nonfiction books, editing books for publication, and working collaboratively with editors. In this fun, engaging course, you’ll deepen your understanding of writing for impact, develop descriptive writing and critical thinking skills, and get inspired to use your writing in powerful ways.


Picture Books (4 Classes)
The first four classes teach you how to write books in the “toddler-to-picture-book” category for children up to age 8.

Class 1: What makes a successful picture book? Types, styles, and intentions; words and illustrations working together

Class 2: Picture book structure, format, and storylines; creating a layout, storyboard, story arc, and positive outcomes

Class 3: Creating your own unique style; illustration and using contrast and color; and the collaborative relationship of the author and illustrator team

Class 4: Editing your book; working well with publishers; best practices for a best-selling picture book

Early Readers and Chapter Books (4 Classes)

The next four classes teach you how to write books in the “early readers/chapter books” category for children ages 5-8.

Class 5: Writing phenomenal early reader and chapter books; using emotions in your story; specific tips for writing for the elementary school-age student

Class 6: The early reader structures– format, story, and a hero’s journey; using conflict and increasing challenges in your story; writing non-fiction readers

Class 7: Illustration for early readers and chapter books – how it works; vivid and detailed writing; a brief introduction to graphic novels (what they are and what makes them different)

Class 8: Editing early readers and chapter books for publication; working collaboratively with an editor; best practices for writing exciting and engaging readers and chapter books

Middle-Grade Books (4 Classes)

The next four classes teach you how to write books in the “middle grade” category for children ages 8-11.

Class 9: Writing captivating middle-grade novels; the middle-grade reader’s personal development and the storyline 

Class 10: Middle-grade chapter book elements – structures, format, and story; using conflict and increasing stakes; the finer points of a hero’s journey; and the impact of positive and negative outcomes for the middle-grade reader 

Class 11: Voice and point of view (POV); choosing types of POV; how POV shapes the story; writing with two POVs; introduction to middle-grade genres (fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, etc.)

Class 12: Editing and revising your middle-grade novel; working collaboratively with an editor; how to make sure your middle-grade novel shines.

Materials and Homework

Materials: You’ll find the book list for this course in the PDF below. Books for this course are available in the course or in the library. Students should have access to a library and the ability to borrow books. Please make sure you have obtained the book prior to the start of the week it is assigned. Purchasing books is not required, but families are welcome to buy the book(s) if desired.

Homework: Students will read selected books and short reading materials posted in the course and will complete weekly writing assignments to be graded. Two (2) to three (3) hours per class is expected for homework.

Important Dates

Class dates: Mondays, September 9 to December 9, 2024. (No class Oct. 14 & Nov. 25)

Starting time: 1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 Mountain; 10:00 Pacific)

Duration: 50 minutes per class

Choose from courses in all subject areas for your upper grade school, middle school, and high school student—taught by worldwide experts in Catholic education.
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