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Writing for Children & Young Adults – MFA in Writing

“As a visiting lecturer, it was a privilege to be part of this passionate writing community. I wish I’d had access to such a rich and varied program when I was an aspiring writer. The faculty is nurturing and consummately qualified, the students enthusiastic and dedicated.”

— Pam Muñoz Ryan, author of more than 40 books including Echo, the recipient of the Kirkus Prize and the Newbery Honor, Esperanza Rising, and Becoming Naomi Léon

Unlike some other MFA programs, at Spalding, we give writing for children and young adults the same respect and equal access we grant to every other genre. Writing for children and YA is fully integrated into the Spalding MFA program, and students are given full access to the learning opportunities that come when you explore across genres. That exposure and experience will make you a better writer—period. Within the genre, we give equal weight to audience considerations and serious study of craft.

Our prize-winning faculty includes, among others, Newbery Honor winner Susan Campbell Bartoletti, acclaimed author of They Called Themselves the KKK: the Birth of an American Terrorist Group; Lesléa Newman, author of more than 70 books, including the classic Heather Has Two Mommies; and Lamar Giles, who co-founded We Need Diverse Books and whose work has been nominated for an Edgar Award. They write picture books, middle-grade, and YA; they work in fiction, historical nonfiction, poetry, and children’s theatre. All are dedicated, caring teachers. Visit our faculty page to read more, and check out Beth Bauman’s blog post about flawed characters for a taste of what you might learn in the classroom.

Our students and alums have published with top children’s publishers including Scholastic, Candlewick and Simon and Schuster/Atheneum. They’ve won prestigious awards including the E.B. White Honor Book Award and the Nautilus Award. They’ve been named to top lists by ALA and Publishers Weekly; they’ve sold film rights and audiobook rights; they’ve developed successful careers as authors in the schools. And they are equipped to move into new territory if they like: some have published adult fiction, produced plays, and even won national screenwriting competitions.

Students who come to Spalding already having published a book may apply for an accelerated course of study.

Our spring and summer residencies are timed to work with teachers’ schedules.

“When I think back on my time at Spalding, here’s what I remember: The hotel where the MFA program held their conference was exquisite, the Hot Brown sandwich was ambrosial, but the thing that really enamored me the most was the kindness and inquisitiveness of the brilliant student writers and teachers.”

— Kwame Alexander, Author of The Crossover, Newbery Medal Winner

Past visiting writers include

  • Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander (The Crossover)
  • National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming)
  • Newbery Honor winner Pam Muñoz Ryan (Esperanza Rising)
  • Newbery Medal winner Jack Gantos (Dead End in Norvelt)
  • Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall)
  • Newbery Medal winner Nancy Willard (A Visit to William Blake’s Inn)
  • Naomi Shihab Nye (Sitti’s Secrets)
  • Lisa Rowe Fraustino (Ash)
  • Donna Jo Napoli (Stones in Water)
  • Daniel Handler a.k.a Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events)