Early Childhood Book Challenge Resources

This resource list has been co-created alongside early learning, publishing, and community experts to support you in crafting your manuscript submission. The following are research themes, which we encourage you to explore throughout your creative process: Early Childhood Research, Early Childhood Book Writing, Urban Contexts, and Challenge How-To Guides.

Early Childhood Research

Children learn more between the ages of 0-3 year than ever again in their lives. These Early Childhood Research resources provide insights into the physiological and psychological development of children, which can be incorporated into your stories through character sketches, storylines, rhythm and more.

  1. What Do Babies Think: "Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species," says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making of babies when engaging in play.
  2. The Beginning of Life: This six-part video series explores how we can use breakthroughs in technology and neuroscience to examine how environment affect infants—and how infants can affect our future.
  3. Learning Center for Learning and Development of Toddlers: The Cox Campus community provides insights into engaging each and every child as your conversational partner and give them the language and literacy skills they need to decide their own future.
  4. UNICEF Early Childhood Development: A resource from UNICEF diving into engagement between parents and young children, as well as how that stimulation impacts brain development.

  1. Milestones of Early Literacy Development: This resource supports understanding of the process of children's physical and cognitive development.
  2. Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood?: In this collection of letters and replies, Mister Rogers encourages parents, grandparents, and teachers to cherish the questions and comments that come from their children. A great children’s book can listen, communicate, and facilitate more “family” communication.
  3. Zero to Three: Zero to Three works to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development.
  4. Educating Young Children: National Association for the Education of Young Children shares resources to explain various aspects of early childhood development.
  5. Culture Matters: A collection of strategies to support your young child’s social and cultural development.
  6. Talking is Teaching: A variety of resources that encourage parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing with children to support their learning development.
  7. Everything We Know About Early Childhood Has Changed Since Head Start: 50 years of research—and "Sesame Street"—have changed our understanding of how to best help disadvantaged kids.

  1. Reading Aloud: A podcast episode in which Pam Leo shares about connecting with babies and toddlers through books.

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. 101 Tier 2 Words in English and Spanish: Vocabulary list of tier 2 words in English and Spanish.
  4. Preschooler's Vocabulary: The words on this list are the most frequently occurring words of preschool children.
  5. Mixed Word List: A mixed list of words for babies, toddlers, preschoolers
  6. 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.
  7. Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators: The international professional organization for authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Challenge Guides and Resources

To support your creative process and participation in the Early ChildhoodBook Challenge, the OpenIDEO team has the following how-to guides and resources.

Essential Reads
  1. Challenge Personas: These Early Childhood Book Challenge Personas provide a window into the lives of end-users (in this case, the end-readers), for whom you are creating this manuscript. These personas are by no means exhaustive, but meant to serve as a grounding force to guide your creative process.

For Illustrators
  1. Interest Form for Illustrator Participation: During the Refinement Phase, selected authors will work with an illustrator to create concept sketches for key parts of the book. Apply to be considered through this link.

  1. How-To Submit a Manuscript: A step-by-step guide for starting a profile on the OpenIDEO platform and submitting your manuscript to the Challenge.
  2. Live Challenge: The OpenIDEO Platform Open Submission page where you can join the Challenge by submitting your manuscript.