Early Childhood Book Challenge Frequently Asked Questions

Are all submissions public?

At OpenIDEO, we believe in the power of collaboration and iteration. All submissions will be publicly viewable, so participants are encouraged to connect with one another, and share feedback and resources to support the development of one another’s manuscripts.

How do I submit my manuscript?

We've created a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of creating your OpenIDEO profile, and submitting to the Challenge. Check out that resource here.

Can I submit my manuscript through a closed link instead?

For this Challenge, we are exclusively accepting submissions through the OpenIDEO platform. Share your manuscript with us here.

Can I submit a self-published or newly established book?

All manuscripts submitted to the Challenge must be unpublished. Work that has been published in any format, including online or self-published, is not eligible.

Are you looking for only a manuscript or do you need illustrations as well?

This Challenge is only requiring manuscripts from authors to be submitted. However, we encourage all submissions to include imagery to provide an initial “look and feel” that the author might envision for the book. Think of these images as a virtual collage or mood board. This collage could include images or illustrations from other books, new images or illustrations, textures, colors, or styles that might apply to your book.

We plan to have illustrators involved during the Refinement Phase, when selected authors will work with an illustrator to create concept sketches for key parts of the book. Authors in the Refinement Phase will have a few options for the illustrator with whom they work: they may choose to be paired with an illustrator through OpenIDEO’s network, choose their own illustrator, or even illustrate their book themselves.

‍For the Top Manuscript, a final illustrator will be identified in collaboration with OpenIDEO and the publisher.

Where should I upload my manuscript text and where can I add more details about the illustrations?

We accept all components through the Challenge platform. After creating your OpenIDEO Profile, please input your manuscript into the challenge question itself. There is a section of the platform where you can upload images or illustrations. Utilizing the captions feature, you can add more details about each of the illustrations. Additionally, in the "attachments" section of submission, you can attach a document with the illustrations for the readers to refer to. Since the primary criteria of the challenge is the manuscript itself, it's valuable to list out the story in the manuscript section of the challenge questions. It will make it easier for the community to quickly visit your submission, read the story and provide feedback to support the development of your manuscript.

How does the scorecard or collaboration points affect the Challenge?

For this Challenge, the "scores" in your DQ profile do not influence the evaluation process for your manuscript, so no need to worry about the score. While the amount of comments or feedback you provide will not affect whether your manuscript is selected, we do still encourage you to connect with others and share feedback, to support this community of authors.

I’m not in the United States or Philadelphia. Can I still apply?

Authors can be located anywhere in the world, but the book should be relatable to children and caregivers in U.S. cities, like Philadelphia.

How can I increase the potential for my manuscript to align with the focus of the Challenge?

We encourage you to read the Challenge Brief thoroughly, including the Evaluation Criteria, and Challenge Personas ensure your manuscript resonates with U.S. audiences in cities, like Philadelphia.

Additionally, the process of feedback is very important in your process to understand the context and community of readers you are developing this manuscript for. For example, we suggest getting feedback from: other children’s book authors and editors, and children 0-3 and their caregivers, particularly those living in urban U.S. cities like Philadelphia.

I was asked to join a team. What does that mean and what are the responsibilities and obligations?

Some authors may choose to submit as a team instead of an individual author. You will have to decide on the structure of your team and how you will share the responsibilities of creating the content. We also recommend you define what roles you would take on should your manuscript be selected as a winner. Joining a “team” indicates that you are actively contributing to the manuscript.

Have you selected a publisher? Who are they?

We are in the process of selecting our publisher partner and will be sharing that information publicly as soon as we are able. 

For the winning author, what are the conditions of the publishing contract?

Once we select the publisher and author, we will connect them to agree upon a publishing contract together. 

What will happen to the manuscripts that are not selected to move forward?

OpenIDEO and William Penn do not intend to work with authors beyond those who submit the winning manuscript. If a manuscript is not selected to move forward, the author can remove it from the site after the Challenge closes, or keep it up to be publicly viewable.

The manuscripts that are not selected to move forward will still be available for others to access on the platform. For those whose manuscripts are not selected, we will offer the opportunity to continue following Challenge updates and to engage with the Challenge community on the Challenge website on OpenIDEO.com.

If a manuscript is not selected to move forward, can the author remove it from the IDEO site?

If a manuscript is not selected to move forward, the author can remove it from the site after the Challenge closes.

Are there additional resources I can reference to support my submission?

Of course! We want to make sure you’re set up for success. To learn more about the Challenge process and eligibility, check out our Resource Archive including this deck from a webinar we hosted. If you have any questions, please email ecbook@ideo.com.

Early Childhood Book Writing

It can be a challenge to write a book for an audience as young as 0-3 year-olds. You need to say a lot through a short story, use the correct vocabulary, and keep young, wandering minds engaged. This section supports your understanding of some basic rules, methods, and tricks to write for this audience of children (0 to 3), families, and caregivers.

  1. Basic Vocabulary Terms: Tier 1 vocabulary is comprised of words that most children use in everyday speech. This lesson provides teachers with Tier 1 words, and can be used to ensure the vocabulary in your manuscripts meets our Challenge Evaluation Criteria.
  2. 101 Tier 1 Words in English and Spanish: Vocabulary list of tier 1 words in English and Spanish with child-friendly definitions.
  3. Preschooler's Vocabulary: The words on this list are the most frequently occurring words of preschool children.
  4. Mixed Word List: A mixed list of words for babies, toddlers, preschoolers
  5. Children's Book Mistakes: 5 children’s book mistakes to avoid when crafting your manuscript. Working on a book for young readers? Here’s what not to do.
  6. Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators: The international professional organization for authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults.
  7. Reader's Guide Tips for Parents: The Reader's Guide provides aspiring authors with insights into what parents are doing to facilitate a quality reading experiences with their children.
  8. Amari's Adventure: There are examples of books we consider “quality reads.” Elements of these "quality reads" include a compelling storyline, using language that can be easily read aloud, and embedded reading guide for teachers/parents.
  9. Types of Books: An overview of the different types of book genres associated with different types of language and how each encourages a different dialog or conversation with children.
  10. Everything About Writing a Picture Book: Picture books! For many writers, this is the most tantalizing genre of all. It might also be the single hardest one to crack. So how do you do it? The following resource is adapted from a workshop given by Edmonton-based children’s writer Alison Hughes.
  11. Best Books for 0-5 Years: The books here are the best books written for babies, toddlers and preschoolers ages 0-5 over the last 100 years.

Urban Contexts

Some of you may be familiar with the experiences of living in an urban context within the U.S. like Philadelphia, but others of you may not. This section contains a mix of articles, podcasts, documentaries, and resources that provide a window into the lives and learning experiences of children, families, and caregivers living in urban contexts.

  1. Read by 4th: Get a flavor for Philadelphia and the momentum behind early literacy in this video from the citywide, grade-level reading campaign, known as Read By 4th.
  2. Don't Ask Where I'm From, Ask Where I'm a Local: Writer Taiye Selasi speaks on behalf of "multi-local" people, who feel at home in the town where they grew up, the city they live now and maybe another place or two.
  3. The Philadelphia Migration Project: A talk from Domenic Vitiello, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of City Planning and Urban Studies at University of Pennsylvania, which gives comprehensive insights on the topic of "Local History and Demography: The Philadelphia Migration Project."

  1. Inclusion in Early Childhood Settings in Philadelphia: A resource from the William Penn Foundation that dives into inclusion in Philadelphia child-care programs.
  2. Diversity in Early Childcare and Education: This book by Janet Gonzalez-Mena explores the rich diversity encountered in programs and environments for children birth to 8—including those serving children with special needs.
  3. Philadelphia's Immigrants: The PEW Charitable Trust shares about immigrants in the city of Philadelphia and how they are changing the city.
  4. Growing Up American: This academic paper explores the challenges and socioeconomic circumstances confronting immigrants and immigrant families.

  1. Migrant Children Growing Up in America: During this webinar, three scholars explore the educational, psychological, and social impacts of discrimination on immigrant children from birth to age 10 growing up in America.