Students in Professor of Education Charlie Temple’s “Creating Children’s Literature” course attended a two-day workshop last semester at the Highlight Foundation writers’ retreat center in Boyds Mills, Pa. Hosted by Kent Brown Jr. ’65, director of Highlights for Children, Inc., students supplemented their classroom studies with a firsthand look at children’s book and magazine publishing from professionals in the field.
“One of the goals of the course is to show students what they need to know to break into the field, and meeting children’s book editors face-to-face through the workshop at Highlights was an incredible opportunity,” says Temple.
The Highlights Foundation retreat center hosts workshops to help authors and illustrators hone their craft. The programs are facilitated by authors and editors from Highlights for Children magazine, in addition to their sister magazines and publishing Highlights’ children’s book imprints Boyds Mills, Calkins Creek and Wordsong Books. Participants also take part in yoga sessions, catered meals, and other activities to create a successful writing environment.
HWS students took a workshop led by Clara Gillow Clark, critically acclaimed author of six novels of historical fiction for middle school readers. In the workshop, Gillow Clark shared examples of how her stories were inspired by events from local history, and also shared a variety of resources she consulted to help make her stories seem real.
“I not only gained knowledge on how to become a published writer, but I was able to see the enjoyment that an author has when readers pick-up and enjoy their book,” says Haleigh Quigg ’18. “Publishing a book is a complex process that does not happen overnight, and I learned this during my time at Highlights.”
Students also met with the editors of Hello magazine for children ages 0 to 2; High Five magazine for children ages 2 to 6; and High Five Bilengue, which includes material in both Spanish and English. They were given a comprehensive overview of the children’s book editing process from editors of the other publishing divisions under the Highlights for Children, Inc. media brand, including Boyds Mills Press, Calkins Creek Press, and Word Song Press.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for students, thanks to the generosity of one man,” says Temple, referring to Brown, who organized the retreat.
The Hobart alumnus is editor-in-chief emeritus of Highlights for Children, Inc., and the former publisher of Boyds Mills Press, the trade division of Highlights, which he co-founded in 1990. A past president of the Educational Press Association of America, Brown has served on the publications committee of the International Reading Association and is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English, the American Society of Magazine Editors, and the National Press Club. At HWS, he majored in English.