For individual mentorship, coaching, critiques, or editing, click here. 

    Back by popular demand: Writing Picture Book Biographies
In this 6-week interactive online class, facilitated through a Zoom classroom, we will dive deeply into the unique challenges of writing stellar picture book biographies.

Sundays from 4pm-6pm CDT
July 14 – August 18, 2019  I apologize for the inconvenience, but this CLASS HAS BEEN POSTPONED– STAY TUNED FOR NEW DATES
(Recordings will be available to anyone who misses a class)
Registration fee: $375 for class only
or $525 for class AND a discounted post-class critique from Donna (up to $400 value)

I’m not just a fan of picture book biographies, I dedicated my MFA critical thesis to the craft challenges involved. I’ve also written a stack of picture book biographies, including multi-award-winning Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness, NCSS Notable Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words, and forthcoming King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara. You can learn more about my books by clicking the Books page on this site. You’ll find testimonials from previous students by scrolling to the bottom of this page. I hope to see in class!

Read my Highlights blog post titled 10 Things to Consider When Writing Picture Book Biographies here.

                In this class, we will cover:
* How to identify and analyze mentor texts
* Identifying expository vs. narrative approaches
* Finding the scope/focus/angle of your story
* Crafting a voice unique to your story
* Identifying your story’s theme & incorporating a throughline
* Character and narrative arc
* Various structures available
* POV & perspectives
* The nonfiction/fiction threshold
* Research considerations
* Back matter
* Guest authors will join us for class #5 and #6


2019 Class Registration and optional discounted critique from Donna

For an immersive, retreat-like Picture Book Biography Workshop…

* October 2-5, 2019—For an extended, immersive learning experience at the Highlights Foundation’s retreat-like campus in Pennsylvania, consider registering for the picture book biography workshop, to be co-taught by me, author Don Tate, and a couple of surprise faculty members.
Click here for more information.

Previous Classes:


* July 1-August 5, 2018—SOLD OUT– 6-week Intensive Online Class – Writing Picture Book Biographies, facilitated through a Zoom virtual classroom. Pay via PayPal below or contact me for other payment options.

If you’re ready for more in-depth instruction in writing picture book biographies, this is the course for you. I studied the writing craft, and the unique considerations of picture book biographies, long before my first books were acquired and before I pursued an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I even focused my critical thesis on creative approaches to picture book biographies and the often-blurry nonfiction line. Now, I am the proud author of many books for young readers, including the award-winning Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness, illustrated by Daniel Minter (Lee and Low, 2016) and Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words, illustrated by S.D. Schindler (Peachtree, 2018). My next picture book biography King of the Tightrope, illustrated by Adam Gustavson (Peachtree, 2019), releases on October 1, 2019. Others will follow. You can learn more about my books here. And you can learn more about my critique and editorial services here.

In this 6-week interactive class, we will examine the practical and creative components of successful narrative picture book biographies, including:
Upper elementary vs. lower elementary audiences, how to analyze mentor texts, narrative vs. expository nonfiction, scope/focus/angle, research sources, voice, point of view options, theme, linear vs. non-linear structures, revision checklist, the nonfiction/fiction threshold, how picture book biographies are classified by the Library of Congress, publishers, and award committees. And more

* June 9, 2018  9:00am – 4:00pm  Picture Book Biography Workshop—SWTexas SCBWI

* June 11-July 30, 2018 Sundays –Style & Substance: Picture Book Biographies—The Writing Barn, Austin, TX—SOLD OUT

* December 3, 2016 3:30-5:30pm— Picture Book Biographies: How Creative is Too Creative?—The Writing Barn, Austin, TX–SOLD OUT

Testimonials from former students

“If you’re new to writing PB bios or have been writing them for awhile but want to dig in deeper, you should definitely take Donna’s class! The handouts are invaluable, the camaraderie she develops both in class and in the Facebook group are incredible, and the analyses of many, many current PB bios have made me feel ready and excited to dig in to my next few writing projects.” —Debra Shumaker
“Donna tailored the class to meet our individual needs. I came away with such a deep understanding of the content I feel totally prepared to write. Best writing class I’ve taken!!! Donna ROCKS!!!”  —Gail Shipley
“This is a MUST class for any writer wanting to learn about PB narrative non-fiction. Donna’s mentor text analysis process and topic exploration sheets are worth their weight in gold. This class has taken my understanding and writing of NF PB Bios to a new level.”  — Darshana Khiani

Donna’s picture book biography class will make you look at children’s books with a new set of eyes.The examination of picture book biographies will hone your focus on writing styles that may best suite you as a writer. Donna gives examples of published authors’ works as she guides you through this wonderfully detailed course. She encourages you to read, read, read so that you can learn the practice while learning a bit about history along the way. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone wanting to write in this genre. After all, don’t we want to entertain our readers, while educating them at the same time. — Debbie Lodato

“There is an overwhelming amount of information to learn about writing nonfiction picture books, and Donna Bowman’s course on Nonfiction Picture Book Biographies taught me the building blocks I needed to advance my own work. For the first time, I finally understood the process of research and how to go about tracking and connecting the pieces of information I want to include in my narrative nonfiction projects. Donna’s style is friendly, while the course was well-organized and moved at a fast pace.” — Lynn Pedersen

“I was wise to take a summer class with the talented Donna Bowman. During it, I labored, persisted, stretched and cried a little. If you want to grow and learn, please take any class with Donna. You will be forever changed and inspired.” — Wendi W.

“Taking Donna’s course was just what I needed to gain confidence in my writing and join a writing community.  She is an expert on picture book writing and shares her knowledge so generously with all of her students.” —Susan H.

“I got SO MUCH out of this class! I loved the depth of insight you presented and feel that it worked on so many levels – simple enough for beginners, but complex enough for those further along on their writing journey.” —Gayleen R.

“It was a great gift to myself attending your class. I enjoyed your teaching style and the input from classmates. It was excellent!” — Tracy V.