Writing for Children

Mon 28 August 2023 - Fri 1 September 2023
Tutors / Zillah Bethell  & Alex Wharton
Guest Reader / Patience Agbabi
Course Fee / From £575 - £675 per person
Genres / PoetryWriting for Children and Young Adults
Language / English

This course will offer a whistle-stop tour in writing for children, and in how to tell our stories in original and captivating ways through the written word, performance, workshops, digital offerings and more. Both tutors, who are masters in their fields, will each take a lead in both poetry and prose and show you how to turn your passions into storylines, characters and worlds that young readers will embrace.

Zillah will look the architecture of your book and the materials you want to build it with: language, form and three-dimensional characters who have meaningful relationships with each other and with the reader.

Alex will show you where to find good poems, by exploring the playfulness and curiosity of the words that surround us. He will explore the sound of poetry, and how a performative element could be considered when composing poetry for children.

Finally, both writers will look at the world of children’s writing – how writers can take their work into classrooms, onto virtual platforms and to festivals to capture the imaginations of audiences and show them the magic that stories and literature can bring.

This course is suitable for new writers, and more established writers alike, looking to develop their prose and poetry for children aged 8-12.


Zillah Bethell 

Zillah Bethell was born in the shadow of the volcano Mount Lamington in Papua New Guinea. She grew up without shoes, toys or technology. Consequently, she spent a lot of time in the sea swimming and in canoes. Zillah’s family returned to the UK when she was ten, and she now lives in south Wales with her family. Zillah is a storyteller and has written numerous stories for all ages. Her novel The Shark Caller (Usborne, 2021) won the Wales Book of the Year Children and Young People category in 2022 and the Edward Stanford Children's Travel Book of the Year 2022. Zillah’s upcoming novel for children and young people, The Song Walker, will be published early in 2023. 

Alex Wharton

Alex Wharton is an award-winning writer and performer of poetry for adults and children. His first book of poetry for children Daydreams and Jellybeans (Firefly Press, 2021) was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year Award 2022, the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award and was named as a National Poetry Day recommended read. He has collaborated with Literature Wales, Cadw, National Dance Company Wales, Welsh Government, British Council, and several libraries, schools, trusts and festivals including Hay Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival. Alex contributed a story to The Mab (Unbound) a retelling of the ancient Mabinogi tales which was published in 2022. His second collection of poetry Red Sky at Night: A Poet's Delight will be published in 2024 with Firefly Press.  

Guest Reader

Patience Agbabi

Patience Agbabi FRSL is a celebrated poet and children’s novelist. She is a Fellow in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University and has taught in a broad range of settings from primary schools to prisons. She read English Literature at Oxford University and has an MA in Creative Writing, the Arts and Education from Sussex University. Her latest book is The Circle Breakers (Canongate, 2023) the third novel of The Leap Cycle, a time-travel adventure series for everyone aged 8 to ∞. The Infinite (Canongate, 2020), the first novel of the series was CBBC Book of the Month in July 2020 and was shortlisted for several prestigious prizes including The Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Book of the Year 2021. It was winner of the Children and Young People’s Category at Wales Book of the Year in 2021. The second novel of the series, The Time-Thief , was published by Canongate in 2021.

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