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By Sarah Parker-Lee and Erlina Vasconcellos

No matter where you are on your career journey, it’s always time to hone your craft and connect with other writers, illustrators, and children’s book industry professionals. Book fests, conventions, and other kid lit events are a great place to start. So grab your calendars and consider this list your compass!

SCBWI’s Biggest Events for 2019:

Writers Day
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

This is a full-day to immerse yourself in expert keynote speakers, manuscript critiques, and agent pitch sessions. This year’s event is themed “Who’s Reading? Keeping It Fresh for Today’s Generation.” Knowing your target audience sounds simple but are you really in touch with today’s readers – and editors? Our faculty will share insights, knowledge and advice to keep pace with those savvy end-users. Join us for a morning of keynotes and a panel and an afternoon of informational breakouts. And don’t forget there are awesome contests that have led to great things for previous winners. Learn more about that here. Read author Charlotte Offsay’s recap of last year here.

Tahquitz Pines Middle Grade/Young Adult Retreat

The lucky writers who scored spots for this SCBWI-SoCal event get a chance to spruce up their manuscripts with expert advice at a mountain retreat. By the time of this post, the event may be sold out, but you can get on a wait list.

Critique Day
Skirball Cultural Center

Formerly known as Critiquenic, this is an opportunity to connect and get feedback from SCBWI community members in market/genre-organized peer-to-peer critique groups. It’s a great way to get notes on your WIP and to learn the ins and outs of critiqueing if you’re new to the practice. You may even end up with a regular critique group! Check the SCBWI-L.A. events page for updates/dates.

Read Renee Carter’s recap of the 2018 event. 

Annual SCBWI Summer Conference
Los Angeles

Spend four days learning from top authors, editors, agents, and art directors with SCBWI members from all over the world. Manuscript and portfolio critiques, great food, and some parties too! Registration opens in April. Check SCBWI HQ for a schedule and updates.

Read Lorian Steider Brady’s recap of the 2018 summer conference.

Working Writer’s Retreat
Los Angeles
Registration opens in July.

Spend three days focused on your WIP while learning from industry pros. Faculty, registration, and exact dates will be announced soon, so keep an eye on the SCBWI-L.A. regional events page.

Read Jessica Chrysler’s and Katya Dove’s recap of last year’s retreat.


Non-SCBWI Events, including comic book conventions, which have an array of genre novelists, graphic novelists, publishers, and illustrators exhibiting.

Check event websites for more details, including any changes to date or location information.

Teen Book Fest
City of Ontario
Colony High Branch Library

Anaheim Convention Center

Read Sarah Parker-Lee’s recap of the 2017 Wonder-Con.

April 13 – APRIL 14
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
University of Southern California

NOTE: SCBWI-L.A. Published and Listed (PAL) members may have the chance to exhibit their books. Please check the region’s events page and your emails for updates.

Read SCBWI-L.A. PAL Liaison, R.S. Mellete’s, recap of the 2018 festival.

MAY 3 – MAY 4
Santa Monica 

Javits Center, NYC
*NOTE: Not in California, but a huge conference for all members of the literary community, including agents, editors, and publishers. Worth the airfare!

JULY 18 – JULY 21
Comic-Con International
San Diego Convention Center

L.A. Comic Con
Los Angeles Convention Center, CA

NOTE: SCBWI-L.A. Published and Listed (PAL) members may have the chance to exhibit their books or volunteer for this event. Please check the region’s events page and your emails for updates.


These festivals took place in 2018, but as of this posting, don’t yet have their 2019 dates listed:

Pasadena Loves YA
Pasadena, CA

Orange County Book Festival
Costa Mesa, CA

Grand Park Book Fest
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Is there a book festival or conference you are excited to attend this year? Share it in the comments section below.


For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.


Sarah Parker-Lee is a Los Angeles Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators board member & the Managing Editor of Kite Tales, a book reviewer, a content creator for non-profits fighting injustice all over the interwebs, & is available to edit your writerly endeavors. She writes YA alt. history, sci-fi, & is the creator of Dogs & Zombies: Dog’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Twitterings: @SarahSoNovel


Erlina Vasconcellos is the Kite Tales assistant editor. When she isn’t working as a journalist, she writes pictures books and middle grade. Find her on Twitter: @noterlinda 


Photos provided by Christine Van Zandt, Lorian Steider Brady, Nutschell A. Windsor, R.S. Mellete, Sarah Parker-Lee