Skip to content

Highlights Magazine Writing Guidelines Essay

To view our full submission guidelines please visit

Boyds Mills Press, Calkins Creek, WordSong

Please note: Boyds Mills Press, Calkins Creek, and WordSong publish books for children, tweens, and teens that focus on excellent storytelling, imaginative illustration, and strong characters. Our exceptionally crafted titles are designed to entertain, inform, and engage children of all ages. Please review our online catalog to see the types of books that we publish before submitting your work.

Boyds Mills Press, the trade book division of Highlights for Children, publishes a wide range of high-quality titles for young readers—fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade and young teen fiction, and nonfiction novels.

Calkins Creek publishes both nonfiction and historical fiction picture books and novels that introduce children to the many people, places, and events that have shaped US history. Calkins Creek titles present multiple points of view through original and extensive research, and each innovative and skillfully written book uses primary sources, such as timelines, bibliographies, historical notes, and glossaries.

WordSong is the only children’s imprint in the United States specifically dedicated to poetry. WordSong titles, both picture books and novels in verse, capture the vibrant, unexpected, and emotional connections between poetry of all types and young readers. 

To submit:

  • Please upload only one manuscript per submission. We welcome multiple submissions, but we prefer that each one is submitted separately.
  • We encourage you to review our onlinecatalog before submitting work.
  • We do not consider previously published material. 
  • We do not consider submissions from anyone under the age of sixteen.

Picture Books: We accept submissions from both authors and illustrators. If you are an author and an illustrator, please submit the complete manuscript and a sample reproduction of the final artwork that reflects the intended style and technique. Keep in mind that one well-presented submission will be more attractive than several submissions or a submission in many parts. You do not need to send a query first.

Middle Grade and Young Teen Fiction: Please submit the first three chapters and a plot summary. We will request the balance of the manuscript if we are interested. 

Nonfiction: Include a detailed bibliography with your submission. We highly recommend including an expert's review of your manuscript with a detailed explanation of the books in the marketplace that are similar to the one you propose. Keep in mind that good children's nonfiction has a narrative quality—a story line—that encyclopedias do not; please consider whether both the subject and the language will appeal to children.

Please note: Highlights magazine is not holding a fiction contest in 2018. Any manuscripts we receive for that purpose will be reviewed as regular submissions to Highlights. Thanks for your interest in writing for us!

We do not accept work through Submittable (or through e-mail) from writers younger than 16. Young writers and artists may send their work to: Highlights for Children, 803 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431. 

Highlights is a general-interest magazine for children ages 6-12. By publishing stories, puzzles, articles, and activities that are fun and engaging (and secretly purposeful!), we aim to inspire kids to be their best selves - creative, curious, caring, and confident. Highlights was founded in 1946 by Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and Caroline Clark Myers, and is still owned and run by their family. The magazine accepts no outside advertising and has no religious or organizational affiliation. 
Highlights has a circulation of about 1.2 million and is published monthly.

  • Please upload only one manuscript per submission. We welcome multiple submissions, but we prefer that each be submitted separately. Please include your name as you would like it to appear in your byline.
  • We encourage writers to read several recent copies of Highlights before submitting work. Writers can also visit to see examples of previously published content.
  • We pay on acceptance, and we buy all rights, including copyright. We do not consider previously published material.
  • We accept material at any time of the year, including seasonal material.
  • For submissions that require research, please include references and correspondence with experts.
  • Please submit each manuscript only once, to the most appropriate Highlights magazine, keeping in mind the different age ranges. The editors work together closely and will share a manuscript if they feel it's better suited to a different magazine. 
  • Please note that after declining a submission, we delete your manuscript file. In this way, you can be assured that we are not keeping or storing creative work that we have not purchased.

Fiction should have an engaging plot, strong characterization, a specific setting, and lively language.

  • Stories for beginning readers should have fewer than 475 words and should not seem babyish to older readers. 
  • Stories for independent readers should have fewer than 750 words and should be appealing to younger readers if read aloud.
  • Rebus stories should have fewer than 100 words and feature a variety of familiar words that can easily be shown as pictures.
  • We accept all genres appropriate for young readers (no romance, crime, or violence).
  • Payment: $175 and up.

Verse is purchased sparingly at the moment. However, if you'd like to submit poetry, it should be appealing to kids and no longer than about 16 lines. We look for poetry of all genres and types, but we are currently most in need of non-rhyming verse, humorous poems, and holiday-themed poems. We are buying very little nature-themed poetry at this time. Payment: $40 and up.

Nonfiction can include science, arts, sports, how-to's, world cultures, history, What a Pro Knows articles, and Gallant Kids articles.

  • Articles for beginning readers should have fewer than 400 words. 
  • Articles for independent readers should have fewer than 750 words.
  • Articles with a tight focus are most successful. We prefer research based on firsthand experience, consultation with experts, or primary sources.
  • Articles about cultural traditions and ways of life should reflect a deep understanding of the subject.
  • We prefer biographies that are rich in quotes and anecdotes and that place the subject in a historical or cultural context.
  • Digital images should be no less than 300 dpi.
  • Payment: $175 and up.

Crafts can include gifts, toys, games, and decorations. They should appeal to boys and girls.

  • Crafts should have concise, numbered directions, up to 5 steps.
  • Please submit step-by-step photos of a well-made sample of the craft.
  • Craft materials should be inexpensive and easy to obtain.
  • Crafts that celebrate holidays, cultures, or religious traditions are welcome.
  • Payment: $40 and up.

Puzzles should not require readers to write in the magazine (no crosswords or word searches). Our current needs include math puzzles, code activities, and visual puzzles. Word puzzles and logic puzzles are purchased more sparingly at the moment. Puzzle instructions should be concise, but playful themes and language are welcome. For visual puzzles, please include puzzle instructions and art suggestions. Payment: $40 and up.

Cartoons should be fresh, original, and geared to kids. They can be single-panel or multiple-panel, black-and-white or full-color, with or without a caption, and with either human or animal characters. 
Payment: $40 and up for black-and-white, $50 and up for full-color.

For more tips and information of interest to writers, visit