Leah Schanke - 2019 Marvelous Midwest Scholarship winner!

2019 Marvelous Midwest Scholarship Winner: Leah Schanke

Leah Schanke - 2019 Marvelous Midwest Scholarship winner!

Congratulations to our 2019 Marvelous Midwest Scholarship winner: Leah Schanke!

A New York City native with an interest in U.S. history and particularly stories of social justice, Leah is inspired by her African-American heritage to write narrative nonfiction and historical fiction books for children. Leah was a finalist twice, 2013 and 2014, in the children’s book category of the PNWA Literary Contest for Unpublished Works. In 2017 her picture book biography of a Harlem Renaissance poet was a winner in the KidLit College Picture Book Contest.

Leah is a member of the Author’s Guild and associate member of SCBWI. Leah can be found online at www.lhschanke.com and on Twitter at @LeahSchanke.

Congratulations, Leah!


Learn more about our scholarship opportunities.

You can make these and other opportunities possible.

2019 Conference Scholarships for underrepresented writers and illustrators

Free Webinar: Publisher Chat with Donna Beasley of Kazoom Kids Storybooks

Free Webinar: A Chat with Publisher Donna Beasley


Free Webinar: Publisher Chat with Donna Beasley of Kazoom Kids Storybooks

Every month, KidlitNation hosts a free webinar with an industry professional. This March we will be chatting with Publisher, Donna Beasley.

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2019 Conference Scholarships for underrepresented writers and illustrators

2019 Conference Scholarship for Underrepresented Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

2019 Conference Scholarships for underrepresented writers and illustrators

This spring we are offering scholarships for underrepresented writers and illustrators to attend Marvelous Midwest – a conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Learn more by visiting the scholarship webpage.

2018 Scholarship winners

2018 Scholarship winners

2018 Scholarship winners

Congratulations to our 2018 scholarship winners! Our scholarship pays for children’s book writers illustrators of color to attend a professional conference. They will be attending the 2018 SCBWI Illinois Prairie Writer’s and Illustrator’s day Conference.

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Critique Raffle is Now OPEN

It’s time! Our critique raffle is now open. Enter for a chance at once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for critiques, personal meetings, and other goodies from industry experts.

We have over 30 agents, editors, authors, illustrators, and other industry leaders that have graciously donated their time and expertise. Click over to the raffle page to see what goodies we are raffling off.

It’s all for a good cause, too. Money raised in this raffle will directly fund scholarships for diverse writers and illustrators. And extra money will fund other opportunities. You can read all the rules and fine print on the raffle page.

Sharing our love for kidlit

2017 has proven to be an exciting year for us at KidLit Nation. It all started in January with a casual exchange between myself, Christine Mapondera-Talley, and Urania Smith. We met in the very awesome and supportive 12×12 challenge community. Unbeknownst to us, we lived barely 20 minutes from each other, in the south suburbs of Chicago. Of course a lunch date was the next logical step and shortly thereafter we discovered we had very similar ideas on sharing resources that can help authors and illustrators of color, succeed on their journey to publication.

After a few brainstorming sessions, Urania introduced me to a friend, Matthew Kirby, a successful author in his own right. It was then that we knew our foundation for KidLit Nation was now solid. A team with a published author, a pre-published author, and an indie author (me). The common denominator being that we wanted to create a platform that could support authors and illustrators of color with education, resources, opportunities and mentorships. Now this may sound like a monuments task, and in some ways it is. However, our goal can only be accomplished if we meet people where they are, i.e online and offline. With that in mind we will have in person workshops, classes, webinars, a video library, a podcast (2018), mentorship program and whatever else we can stir up. The first set of face-to-face writing classes is already being sponsored by a Chicago based author, Barbara Binns.

Granted our mission may be to support authors and illustrators of color, we are not however a closed community. It is no secret that there’s a lack of representation and diversity in book publishing. This was true 20 years ago and is still true today. It is our belief that we can be a catalyst in ensuring that aspiring authors and illustrators receive lots of preparation so that when opportunity strikes, they can rise to the occasion with confidence.

We envision kidlitnation.com as a one stop shop. We are here to serve the needs of our audience at every stage of publication, whether one seeks to be traditionally published or self-publish.

Thus far we have received tremendous support from SCBWI-IL chapter and the kidlit community at large. Our stunning website was created by a fellow SCBWI member Angie Isaacs and logo by illustrator Russ Cox.  And most importantly, all the agents, editors, authors and illustrators that are generously donating their valuable time by offering professional critiques. These professional critiques are the backbone of our raffle. Funds raised from the raffle will benefit at least 10 authors/illustrators of color who wish to attend an SCBWI-IL conference. If you haven’t seen our fantastic line up of contributors, please click here.

So please join us Sunday July 30th, 2017, as we officially launch KidLit Nation!


Sign up for our newsletter and win prizes!

Book basket and artwork giveaway

Are you as excited for the big critique raffle as we are? In 3 days time you can enter to win critiques and other special opportunities from industry experts.

We understand if you can’t wait. So in the meantime, we’re giving you ANOTHER RAFFLE.

Join our newsletter and you could win a basket of diverse books courtesy of author Miranda Paul or the original KidlitNation artwork provided by illustrator Russ Cox. You’ll also get a reminder when the big raffle opens so you don’t miss out.

You can get extra entries for following us on twitter and leaving a blog post on this comment.



  1. Join our newsletter. This is mandatory.
  2. Follow us on twitter at @kidlitnation or leave a blog post below telling us what new KidlitNation initiative excites you the most. These will get you additional raffle entries.
  3. Enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below. This is mandatory – we will choose the winner from the rafflecopter entries.

That’s it!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Welcome to the new home of KidlitNation!

Welcome to Kidlit Nation!

We’re glad you stopped by, and we hope to see you when we’re up and running.

Kidlit Nation is soon to be the online place for underrepresented authors and illustrators to get their publishing info. We’re inspired by a desire to bring resources and information to diverse voices in children’s literature.

Kidlit Nation is not just a website. Our Own Your Voice initiatives will provide outreach and professional development opportunities to underrepresented children’s writers and illustrators. Come back and join us July 16-26 as we raffle off professional critiques from writers, agents, and editors to provide up to 10 SCBWI-IL conference scholarships.

If you’re a diverse writer or illustrator of children’s literature and interested in applying for a scholarship to 2017 SCBWI-Illinois Prairie Writer’s and Illustrator’s Day, check back for guidelines. Applications begin July 1, 2017.

Have a question? Or want to know how you can help us as we prepare to launch? Please email us, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Urania Smith at uraniaraynellsmith [at] gmail [dot] com.