For more than 25 years, Kindling Words has been the leading professional retreat for the children’s book world. Published authors and illustrators and editors hone the tools of their craft, engage in deep conversation with colleagues and fill the creative well with fresh ideas.

The village of Kindling Words is working hard to welcome all published creators to our intentionally diverse community of children’s book professionals. Come experience opportunities to learn, network, and relax!

“I love KW so much! love learning from, and just hanging out with and bonding with esteemed authors, illustrators, and fellow editors. It is so liberating to attend a conference like that and be there to learn, rather than teach and be pitched to.”
– Alvina Ling, Executive Editorial Director, Little Brown

Dates for 2022

Kindling Words East will hold a four-day retreat in Southbridge, Massachusetts, on the rescheduled dates of March 31 – April 3.

Kindling Words West is scheduled for May 2-9, hosted by the beautiful Whidbey Institute, a retreat off the coast of Seattle.


Kindling Words meets twice a year

Kindling Words East will be in our new venue: the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center, in Southbridge, Mass.

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The Southbridge Hotel

If I only do one thing each year that is solely for my professional self, it is attending Kindling Words.
– Gregory Maguire, Author, Wicked, Leaping Beauty, Egg & Spoon

My first year at KW I met, for the first time, other people who did what I did, who sat alone in their offices dreaming up stories for children. On the day I arrived, I didn’t know any of them, but after three days of talking, talking, talking, at the dining tables, around the bookshelves, in front of the bonfire, I knew I’d made friends for life. And, maybe more importantly, I knew I had colleagues, people who understood what it meant to write for children. Kindling Words is, for me, the light in winter during which I define my hopes for the new year.
– Ellen Wittlinger, Author, Hard Love, This Means War

Kindling Words West gathers at Whidbey Institute, a place that nurtures the creative spirit. We meet for a full week in May, long enough to accomplish wonders, with silent working hours all day long, and wonderful conversations in the evenings.

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The labyrinth at Whidbey from above

KW West is a nurturing and magical week for delving deeply into your work, in the best of company. With fabulous food, too!
Nancy Werlin, Author

Some of my favorite memories from Kindling Words are the meals – not because the food was so good (although it was), but because I, the writer-introvert, felt so comfortable to sit myself down at any table, with anyone something I always craved but rarely got at larger conferences. I felt welcome connected to a community of other writers, and by extension, more deeply to myself sounds grandiose, what can I say? It was a grand experience!
– Chris Tebbetts, Author, Stranded series with Jeff Probst; Middle School series with James Patterson

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