Youth Programs

Youth Programs at Portland Book Festival 2020

We’re thrilled to share the Youth Programs at Literary Arts’ lineup of incredible events and workshops for our first ever virtual Portland Book Festival, presented by Bank of America. In a typical year, we’d all be gathered and bundled up, shuffling from park block to park block in a jam-packed day of incredible events. While we’re sad not to be able to celebrate this festival with you all in person, our virtual format has afforded us the ability to have a bit more time and flexibility to build out our most ambitious schedule of events yet. We hope you register for classes, spread the word amongst the community, and join us for #PDXBookFest!

Student volunteers at the 2018 Portland Book Festival

Wednesday, November 11

The Seeds to Plant the Future: WITS 2019-20 Anthology Launch

4:00-5:00 PM PST. Livestream at PDXBookFest.org.

Join local public high school students as they read from their work featured in the 2019–20 Writers in the Schools anthology, The Seeds to Plant the Future. The event will feature over a dozen readers from schools all around the Portland Metro including Franklin, Pacific Crest, and North Marion high schools, and many others.

Literary Arts’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) program brings working writers into high school classrooms to inspire students to write, revise, edit, and publish their writing. WITS writers collaborate with teachers to create inspiring and dynamic curricula that meet the goals for arts learning, while also helping students understand the real-world importance of reading and writing in all aspects of life. WITS writers share their expertise and personal experience of the writing life, helping youth learn to use writing as a form of creative self-expression. Pre-order your copy of the anthology here!

Thursday, November 12

Hopes/Fears/Feathers: the Art of the Notebook and the Bird in Your Yard (Grades 9-12).

4:00-6:00 PM PST. Free (donations accepted). Workshop via Zoom.

In this workshop we’ll identify and then banish fears, generate new work on the page and examine ways the writer’s notebook can help to focus our attention, capture stories and make sense during unsettled times. We’ll look at poems by Claudia Rankine and Emily Dickinson and watch New York birder Christian Cooper nerd out on birds. Bring a notebook, a pen and your fledgling hopes. Instructor: Laura Moulton.

Saturday, November 14

Collaborative Writing for Educators

9:00-11:00 AM PST. Free (donations accepted). Workshop via Zoom.

Explore cooperative exercises in this workshop aimed at encouraging shy writers and offering a variety of ways to look at subjects to stimulate every student. You will learn how to teach group projects that practice a range of writing techniques. We will write team poems, working together from brainstorming to polished pieces, and you will leave with ideas for additional collaborative pieces. No stress, just fun. Come join us! For educators or those simply interested in the subject. Instructor: Amy Minato.


Portal to an Alternate Universe (Grades 3-5).

10:30 AM – 12:30 PM PST. Free (donations accepted.) Workshop via Zoom.

Young writers will find an ordinary object, indoors or outdoors, that can magically transform into a portal to an altered universe! We’ll sketch it out and add descriptive words. Then we will use a guided visualization and literary models like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Wildwood to help create a scene. It can be Portland with a twist, or something entirely from a fantasy world. Prompts will be offered to help participants, if needed, such as: Imagine you found something through the portal that you desperately want to keep—but someone’s preventing your return. Participants are encouraged to share their sketches or photographs and scenes. Parents are welcome, but students can participate on their own. Instructor: Alex Behr.


Make Art & Take Action: Youth Panel on Writing Creatively in Extraordinary Times

1:00-1:45 PM PST. Livestream at PDXBookFest.org.

Three dynamic Oregon high school artists will perform their work and discuss their experiences at the intersections of writing and activism in 2020. Learn about their ideas for the future and what writing means to them right now. Brief Q&A with audience questions to follow. Moderated by novelist and Writers in the Schools Program Specialist, Jules Ohman.


Writing When We’re Far Apart (Grades 6-8).

2:30 – 4:30 PM PST. Free (donations accepted.) Workshop via Zoom.

For most of us, this year has made it hard to say all the things we want to share with family and friends who don’t live with us. Even if we get to stay in touch with texts or Zoom or TikTok, there are always more stories to tell! In this class, we’ll write about memories of times we spent with family and friends who are far away, remembering big and small events with them that mattered to us. We’ll also write letters to the people who can’t be with us right now, and try out some different ways to use writing to imagine that they’re together with us. Instructor: Jennifer Perrine.


Be sure to check out the full lineup of events and start building your own Portland Book Festival schedule. Learn more about our amazing picture book and middle grade book events here and our young adult author events here.

Questions about Youth Programs’ workshops and events? Email Emilly Prado, Interim Director of Youth Programs, at emilly@literary-arts.org.

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