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Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest

Commonwealth Education Trust via Coursera


This course is for curious students and aspiring authors with a passion for writing for young readers. Participate in a dynamic online community of writers as you experiment with your own writing and develop your voice. This course will guide you with a combination of video lectures, online readings, peer reviews, and guest appearances from world-renowned children’s authors. As you work through the writing exercises, you will give and receive feedback from your peers and gain tools and techniques for improving your writing.

During this course you will identify stories that matter to you, explore cultural significance and boundaries, and shape your identity as a writer; become familiar with standard elements of narrative (character, setting, plot, theme, language, dialogue, point of view); reflect on your own work and practice essential self-editing skills; see the different ways in which words and art interact, and the possibilities of longer narrative forms; come away with practical insights into publishing options; and create a plan for pursuing your enthusiasm for writing. By the end of the course, you will have ten to twelve extracts of writing that you can develop into a portfolio.

Join a dynamic community of many voices from around the world. Find inspiration in your own voice, heart, and place so that you can tell the stories for young readers you’ve always wanted to tell.


  • Your Writing Identity
    • Good children’s writing commonly has a strong sense of identity. This module will give you a chance to think about and practice putting yourself into your writing. We will start by looking at how you can establish effective writing habits and how you can use your own experiences and culture to enrich your writing. We will also discuss ways that you can add depth to your writing by drawing on myths and legends, and by experimenting with different viewpoints.
  • Genre, Form, and Audience
    • In this module we will give you an overview of genres and forms that are popular for young readers. We will then move on to a discussion of audience – who your readers are and how you can make your work appealing to your chosen audience. By the end of the module you will have a good sense of the wide range of genres and forms available to you and some techniques that you can use to make the most of the genre or form you are working in.
  • Structure
    • We’ve covered qualities of writing that make it appeal to an audience – its form, its genre, and its strong personal voice. Now we’ll move on to some structural elements that are key to holding your writing together. We’ll start by looking at character and setting, then move on to plot and theme. Finally, we will focus on language. Language can really bring your writing to life by adding a layer to your characters and setting and by giving your plot a good pace. This is the last module where we look at creating new writing. In the next two modules we’ll focus on editing your work and getting it published.
  • Editing and Proofreading
    • In this module you will learn how to transform your draft work into something that flows well, is free of errors, and is ready to be published. We’ll start by looking at structural editing, where you look at your work’s plot, structure, and themes. Then we’ll move on to the copyediting and proofreading stage, where you focus on perfecting grammar and spelling. We have provided resources and checklists that will help you to practice applying our editing tips to your own work.
  • Publishing
    • In this final module you’ll learn about different ways that you can get your work published and into the hands of young readers. We have included information about a range of different publishing methods available to you, from traditional print publishing to digital publishing. You can also listen to our guest writers talking about how they publish their own work. This MOOC is just a starting point for your writing life. You will soon be ready to join a global network of writers.

Taught by

Maria Gill and David Hill


4.2 rating, based on 13 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 1249 ratings

Start your review of Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest

  • This is an easy self paced course. I am almost done and finished most of it in a week. However, the information is great for beginner writer and I think any writers could take something away from it. I think there could be a bit more information added, but it does give you a good starter point to see if writing is something you want to continue.
  • I enjoy writing but did not think writing for children was for me. On a whim, I decided to try this course and really enjoyed it. Plots for several children's books started revolving around in my head while taking this course and a new opportunity has opened up.
    The peer reviews were not always helpful, as there are many non-native English speakers doing the course and guidance for reviewing was fairly minimal, but there was plenty of information to help beginner writers start a career and work towards being published.
  • i loved the course it did really helps me write for this generation i mean this generation has different taste from other generations, so if you wan't to really hooked readers i recommend you taking this course.
  • What a great course! A lot of the information was basic, but at the same time, it was a very motivating course and it helped me put that basic knowledge to use. It gave me some good ideas and helped me have more confidence in my writing. By completing the weekly assignments, I actually could see my writing improving week by week. This course can be as challenging or as unchallenging as you make it to be.
  • Anonymous
    the course itself was very useful- five modules with plenty of information and interesting guest speakers too. I found the prompts for written work to be very inspiring. However, the peer marking left a lot to be desired. It's very difficult to take away something useful and actually learn and improve if reviews consist of people saying 'nice story' or feedback riddled with mistakes erroneously correcting grammar.
  • Anonymous
    I think so far this course has been pretty great! It has certainly helped me as a writer. I think it is amazing that this good a resource is free and online.
  • Céline PUPO
    That was great and the exercices very practical. There are few courses about Children Literature, interesting for anyone about to start.
  • Lillian Mack
    I suppose it would be a great course for a beginner, though I found it below my experience level. It was still a pretty pleasant experience with nice staff and lectures.
  • Sheila McShane
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