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No matter the course or workshop I teach, my goal is the same: to help the writer learn to tell his story well within the context of today's children's book world.

How do I realize that goal?

I facilitate, I coach, I cheer on, I share.

I come to know each student as I come to know my characters, asking "What do you want and why do you want it?"

A successful picture book offers up concrete details from which the reader can draw Universal Truths.  I strive to do the same in a supportive environment.  I offer up my craft, my children's books, my years on task, as well as my working knowledge of children's book publishing, the children's book world and its singular body of children's literature.


Look for these classes throughout the year!

The Newberry Library
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL

Workshopping Your Picture Book Manuscript

(For Advanced Writers)
10:00 am to 4 pm
Saturday, March 2, 2024

Eager to revise your current picture book manuscript to ready it for submission?

This instructor-led one-day workshopping opportunity in which writers share their manuscripts will help you continue to learn and hone your craft. Constructive feedback on one finished draft (up to five pages in length) focuses on the elements of story and the needs of both the picture book format and its audience of young readers. Writers will return to their stories, able to re-vision them with refreshed eyes.

Registration begins January 17, 2024.
To register: visit https://www.newberry.org/
(Note: class size limited to 10)


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The Writer's Studio
The University of Chicago
The Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies
450 N Cityfront Plaza Drive
Chicago, IL

Publishing Your Book for Children and Young Adults

Fall/Winter 2023/2024 Dates TBD

To register, visit https://grahamcourses.uchicago.edu/

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Land Grove Inn

The Vermont Manuscript Workshop
July 7 - 12, 2024.

The Center for the Arts at the Landgrove Inn
Landgrove, Vermont

      I’m enormously proud to continue for a seventh year the Vermont Manuscript Workshop, honoring Workshop founder Barbara Seuling’s love and knowledge of writing for children, dedication to craft and personal investment in her writers and their stories.

Grounded in the ways and wonders of Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains, this summer's workshop offers up to 6 children's book creators:

  • uninterrupted writing time from morning to night in a bounty of beautiful settings inside, outside, all around the town;
  • daily face-to-face facilitator feedback and coaching on their efforts;
  • rich connections with fellow like-minded, like-hearted writers to fine-tune both the story they’re telling and the writer’s life they’re living;
  • evening Read-aloud sessions;
  • drop-in visits by Children’s Book World residents;
  • optional outings to maximize nearby Vermont resources, such as Northshire Books in Manchester and local galleries.
  • focused “Food-for-Thought” Writer’s Journey conversations throughout each day’s three delicious 5* meals.
Interested participants need:
  • a working manuscript on which to focus;
  • a want and a need to take that manuscript to the necessary NEXT LEVEL, whatever that may be;
  • a willingness to connect, as Mary Poppins’ P.L. Travers advised – with their world, their story, themselves.

NOTE: To ensure a worthwhile experience, participants must email the facilitator samples of the work on which they wish to focus by May 25: if a picture book, please send the entire manuscript; if a chapter book, please send the beginning 10 pages plus a synopsis or description of the story.

The historic Landgrove Inn invites the making of magic. Cradled by an unspoiled valley and surrounded by the majestic Green Mountains, innkeepers Tom and Maureen Checchia provide guests with a quintessential Vermont getaway. Visit http://www.landgroveinn.com to read about the outstanding accommodations, award-winning meals and workshop studio space.

For more information about the Manuscript Workshop, email Esther Hershenhorn at esthersh@aol.com.

Room and Board: workshop-friendly rates; all rooms are singles

For more information about the Inn’s accommodations, email Tom at: vtinn@sover.net

Call (800) 669-8466 to register and to reserve a room. 
Register by 1/31/2024

“We are all looking for magic…But indeed we have to wave the wand for ourself.”
P.L. Travers

* * *

“Esther Hershenhorn’s Vermont Manuscript Workshop is an opportunity to work hard in a focused way with a goal of accomplishing a significant amount of work. The pleasure of doing this work in a bucolic environment with plenty of time for walks, wonderful meals, and the delight of a small group of children’s writers was absolutely priceless. “

“…This workshop absolutely met my wants, needs and wishes! I was able to refocus my story, reorganize it and write though to an ending I really like! Most of all, I enjoyed the one-on-one time. It was very focused, fun and allowed me to move forward at a pace that was quicker than usual.”

“My wishes for this workshop were met 100%! Esther has the gifted ability to gently guide writers to find their hearts. ”

“The workshop certainly lived up to its tag line. It was a supportive, creative, inspiring and beautiful environment all week long. I don’t believe I would have completed this second draft so quickly had it not been that way.”

“The workshop exceeded my expectations! I especially loved the individual time with Esther.”

“Esther thought of everything – from the wonderful welcome to the last meeting that reinforced what we accomplished, what we learned and what our next steps should be. The entire week was so well organized and very thoughtful”

“Esther Hershenhorn’s Manuscript Workshop is a living fairy tale for writers. The setting: a historic inn amidst Vermont’s scenic Green Mountains featuring peaceful surroundings conducive to creativity. The characters in this tale: a group of children’s writers spending a week focusing solely on a manuscript that needs work. The plot: using her expertise and years of experience, Writing Coach Esther Hershenhorn, meets daily one-on-one with the writers, resolving their story problems and setting them on the path to success with their manuscripts. Subplots include mealtimes with great food and fellowship, evening gatherings with manuscript readings and discussions about books, the publishing industry and life; and a side trip through Vermont’s mountain scenery to the Northshire Bookstore and The Vermont Country Store where you can even get your photo taken with the moose that hangs out across the street."

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Ragdale Foundation
1260 N. Green Bay Road
Lake Forest, IL

Workshops vary. 

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Caught on Camera

Listen to my Writer's Tip, captured by Tina Nichols Coury (www.tinanicholscouryblog.com) at the recent NY SCBWI Conference.

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Wondering if you should enroll in my class?

Recent University of Chicago Writer's Studio and Newberry Library Seminar Evaluations included the following comments:

“It is always a pleasure to work with Esther. She is so enthusiastic and positive. She helps everyone in the class believe they truly could publish a picture book. She is a font of knowledge.”

“Esther is a wonderful, experienced, caring instructor.”

“Esther is a gem - she has a contagiously positive spirit that is inspirational!”

“She is a master at breaking down elements of writing, helping writers to think through what you want to get across to readers.”

“Esther is very warm and takes a personal interest in each student.”“…very generous with her knowledge.”

“Esther always has so many resources to share and techniques to try. I learn so much!”

“Esther is fantastic! Very knowledgeable, works hard, moving all of us forward.”

“Esther is always so positive that everyone is able to share or ask without concern.”

“…Esther is a true treasure. Don't ever lose her!”

“…Esther is truly a gifted teacher, mentor, and writer. She listened carefully to the needs of the class and crafted a syllabus individually relevant to the class.”

“…I walked out more informed and a better writer than when I walked in.”

“Esther was terrific. Smart, accomplished, warm, engaging.”

“A delightful and enriching experience.”

“Esther is one-of-a-kind. Her greatest strength is how much she cares for her students and their stories.”

“Very engaging, responsive and insightful.”

“…Esther really invests herself into each of her students' stories. I was very nervous going into this class having never written before but she quickly calmed my nerves and broke writing down into measurable tasks. Honestly the class provided me with more than I could have hoped for.”

“The best thing about Esther is her ability to connect to every student. She makes you feel like you�re the only one…”

“…a gifted teacher…”

“…Esther knows children's writing!…”

“…Esther offers positive leadership and a wealth of knowledge, especially in regards to this industry!…”

“….Esther’s knowledgeable, enthusiastic…”

“….Esther always saw the kernel of possibility in each and every manuscript.”

“…able to listen to each individual and address his or her specific needs while teaching the whole class.”

“…knows the business and the craft and is very supportive.”

“…caring, enthusiastic, offers great feedback.”

“…an inspirational, radiant teacher.”

“…Esther has a breadth and depth of knowledge of every aspect relevant to the topic and she’s charming, professional and works so hard!”

“…Esther cares and it shows!”

* * *

“…Esther's summer workshop at the Newberry exceeded all reasonable expectations. As a result of her class, I was able to finish a major revision of my novel, uncover mind-blowing revelations about my heroine, and join a wonderful writers group. Esther is the Queen of Inspiration and the Writer's Incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion.”

—Debra Mitchell, Riverside, IL


“I first met Esther Hershenhorn in her children's book writing class at the Newberry Library, "The Write Place." Even though I'm a children's librarian and knowledgeable about children's books, Esther opened up this magical world in directions I never knew existed. Looking at books from a writer's perspective rather than from that of a reader was the key to my development as a writer. Later, in one-on-one sessions, Esther helped me carve through layers of confused ideas to discover the heart of my story and then shape it into a beautiful work of art-most appropriate for a story about a beginning sculptor! As a teacher, Esther has all the qualities a writer most needs-extensive knowledge, an uncanny ability to ask just the right questions, and much cheerful encouragement. Her new book, S is for Story, overflows with her wisdom, revealing insight in manageable pieces from A to Z.”

—Natalie Ziarnik, Barrington, IL

“Esther is an amazingly effective and supportive teacher and writing coach. Implementing her clear and specific critiques into my work gave my manuscript the push and direction that it needed. With Esther's unwavering support and thorough manuscript advice, I got my first book contract and some serious agent interest. She is the wind that I needed beneath my wings and now I'm finally flying! Thanks, Esther!”

— Tina Fakhrid-Deen, Chicago, IL


“Esther is a wonderful writer, editor, teacher and motivator. In her classes, I've gone from writing my first children's book to actually selling my first children's book. Esther's knowledge of the industry, the craft of writing, and what it takes to nurture writers and their stories is invaluable.”

—Cheryl Bardoe, Chicago IL

“Esther is a gifted teacher. She is always warm, positive and inspirational. She takes everyone's work seriously and doesn't intend to "fix-it" as if it were broken; instead, she mines each manuscript for the gold inside of it through facilitation of discussion and direct teaching. Every class has such a lively pulse and I learn just as much from other projects as I do from my own. ”

“She is incredibly connected and at the forefront of what is happening in the world of children's books even as it is constantly changing. This work in children's literature is a journey, she tells us, and as a published author she shares her knowledge so we can pack well, take more careful steps, and understand the path we are on so that we can navigate it better. Her advice and counsel have been invaluable to me as I return to my class notes, as I now understand that revision is the key to getting to the heart of it and as I push to write, I believe in myself more than I did before I met her.”

—Deborah Marcero
Chicago, Illinois

“When I first met Esther Hershenhorn at her Newberry Seminar, The Write Place: A Facilitated Children's Book Writers Group, I had been working eighteen months on a middle grade novel, and had produced 70,000 words without really knowing what to do with them. Esther�s comprehensive knowledge of the art and the industry of writing provided exactly what I needed. Her understanding of the art of writing helped me focus the story and sharpen its voice, while her grasp of the publishing industry helped me to understand the appropriate markets and media for my work. Her enthusiasm, attention to detail and willingness to argue brought out the best in all of us in the seminar. Above all, her ability to confront a problem, chew on it for several days, and to watch her own evolving insights, was truly inspirational.”

—Christopher L. Thomas, Architect, AIA
Evanston, IL

“As a radio host, I always dreamed of writing a children's book. When I became a Mom, I knew I had to do it. Esther Hershenhorn's Picture Book Class will show you just how carefully a children's book is crafted. From character development to word choice, you'll learn how to get your ideas on the paper and make your story soar. Esther's enthusiasm and optimism is so infectious and you will love discovering the art of storytelling for children. I encourage you to take her class and write that book!”

—Eileen Byrne, former WLS-AM talk host,
Author, Diary of a NICU Baby: Surviving and Thriving in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

“Esther Hershenhorn�s workshop at the Newberry Library on writing children�s books taught me new things about revision, audience, and focus every single session. Her relentless but upbeat critiques encouraged all of us to take our writing to another level. People who were stymied actually made progress in their projects, and I realized that my book needed to be two different books. In Esther�s case H is for honesty, humor and hard work. I�ve been teaching and writing over thirty years and I only steal ideas from the best. Esther is one of the best.”

—Lois Barr Associate Professor of Spanish
Lake Forest College
Lake Forest, IL

“Esther Hershenhorn is a teacher of rare insight who has an uncanny ability to zero in on the particular truth that a fledgling novelist is wanting to explore. I saw her do it with every student in our class and heard them express the same amazement I felt when her probing questions suddenly revealed to me what my story was about. Really about. That in itself would have been worth the price of tuition, but it’s only the beginning of what Ms. Hershenhorn accomplished in the six-week class I took.”

— Ellen Reagan, Deerfield IL


“I had been thinking about writing a children's book for a long time, but Esther's class finally helped me put my story on paper.  Feedback from other class members proved to be very helpful, though the greatest part of the course is Esther, herself.  Not only does she have valuable knowledge of the children's book industry (at a writers' conference, she introduced me to author Tomie dePaola!) but her enthusiasm for children's literature and her wonderful personal spirit are truly inspiring.  Take the class!   

“Or, to paraphrase Quentin Crisp, 'Please feel free to quote me as saying anything that will help promote this excellent instructor and her class.'”

— Mark Maroney, River Forest, IL, The Write Place

“Esther's picture book workshop at Ragdale was chock-full of information and inspiration. Whether we were novices or more experienced, Esther gave each of us helpful constructive criticism with our manuscripts. Her keen insight cut right to the core of our stories. And her warm personality and positive attitude set the tone for our group discussion. I left Ragdale with my arms full of handouts about writers' resources and my mind full of ideas about revising.”   

—Brenda Ferber, Deerfield, IL
JULIA'S KITCHEN, Farrar Straus & Giroux '06


Prior to attending a Picture Book Writing class with Esther, I was not sure if I could be a writer.  After that class, I became a timid, cautious writer.  I then attended Esther's course on Writing YA fiction and discovered my passion:  edgy, gritty, realistic fiction for teens.  With Esther's encouragement and guidance, I took a serious plunge and fired my "censor."  The stories I'm to tell have now found life.”

Lori Yoder, Oak Park, IL

When I first signed up for Esther's class I was hoping to merely get some fundamentals of Children's Literature under my belt, but what I actually received was so much more.  Esther is the type of teacher who inspires you to sit down at your desk and write.  Esther lets you know that it is normal for your first draft not to be perfect, that writing is supposed to be hard work-and that is what is so rewarding about the craft.  Her candid honesty week after week gave me the courage to put my heart and soul into my characters.  I would not have the courage or ambition I write with now had I not taken Esther's class.”

—Sarah Bartel, Geneva, IL

“Before I met Esther, I animated, illustrated and told -other people’s stories through 3D animation and Virtual Reality. I had a wish that one day I would be able to tell a story that was my own, a story that I wrote.

“I attended Esther’s workshop “The Write Place,” at the Newberry Library, in Chicago. Esther motivated us to put our words on paper, taught us and helped us hone the craft of writing for children. Esther helped me reconnect and stay in touch with my childhood memories again. Esther told me to write with my heart, not with my hand. Later, I took Esther’s “Picture This: Writing Picture Books for Children” workshop, also at the Newberry Library. This time, Esther helped me find my voice and helped me become a real writer. I finished my first picture book manuscript before the end of the workshop. Thanks, Esther!”

—Sam Thongrong, Chicago, IL

“Having our manuscripts analyzed by a professional gave good focus to the weekend. We appreciated Esther’s breadth of knowledge, her nurturance, and helpfulness. We loved having Esther with us all day long, including lunch and dinner. We were inspired by her experience with her own manuscripts and were touched by her ability to be vulnerable along with us. One of the things that most set Esther apart from other facilitators and teachers was the way she so effectively bridged between being an authority or expert in the field and being a colleague to the rest of our group. We were also impressed with her expertise and we learned from listening to critiques about each other’s stories as well as our own. We got feedback about our writing as well as ideas about marketing. Esther was supportive and respectful; we really appreciated that.”

—The Derry Do’s
August ’05 Summer Chicago Weekend Retreat
Jan Donley, Barbara Fisler, Barbara Gregorich, Vicki Hayes, Chris Tebbetts, Carrie VanderLaan

Esther Hershenhorn

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