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New online grad courses teach writing children’s lit

September 14, 2010

A new series of online courses from McDaniel’s Graduate and Professional Studies Program is designed to help aspiring authors join the ranks of J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss and Judy Blume. Writing for Children and Young Adults will launch this fall with the first of four courses offered completely online.

The three-credit courses will count toward a Master of Liberal Arts degree or may be taken on a non-degree basis, says the program’s coordinator, Mona Kerby, a McDaniel professor of Library Science and author of more than 10 books for children and young adults, including most recently “Owney, The Mail-Pouch Pooch.”

Kerby’s star power has attracted some of the best-known writers in the country to serve as faculty for this program, according to Henry Reiff, dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and professor of Special Education.

“Any budding children's writer is sure to find this experience personally and professionally rewarding,” Reiff says. “The chance to work with such well-known authors creates networking possibilities that simply are not available to most writers.”

Students from all over the country and all over the world can be part of this program without leaving home, says Kerby.

“In fact, we’ve had inquiries from people in Hawaii, Ireland and all over the (continental) U.S. – many of them have already joined the class,” Kerby says, explaining that the courses will be taught by professionals in publishing, editing and writing children’s literature.

Registration is still open for the first course, “The Mechanics of Novel Writing for Children and Young Adults,” which begins Oct. 26. Instructor Jill Santopolo is executive editor at Philomel Books, Penguin Young Readers Group and noted author of the Alec Flint mystery series. Students will explore the mechanics of writing an effective and marketable novel for middle-school and young-adult readers – and will write the first chapter of their novel.

Learning, says Kerby, will be collaborative, and students will have the opportunity to interact with children’s book editors, writers and agents. In sharp contrast to correspondence classes, students will be expected to participate in online class discussions.

In the spring, “Reading Like a Writer” debuts under the leadership of instructor Lisa Graff, author of “Umbrella Summer” and “The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower.”

Kerby explains more about the Writing for Children and Young Adults series in this video.


Mona Kerby, a McDaniel professor of Library Science and program coordinator, talks about McDaniel’s new Writing for Children and Young Adults series of online courses.