About the Project
You can be a hero to the Make Way for Books community! We are always looking for great new books to include on the Make Way for Books App. Submit your picture book and go through our manuscript review process for the chance to get your story published and directly into the hands of the families that use the Make Way for Books App.
Make Way for Books is an early literacy non-profit organization that impacts more than 30,000 young children and families each year. As a digital counterpart of our family programming, the Make Way for Books App provides users with high-quality books, both in English and Spanish, as well as a variety of connected activities for children (ages 0-5) to support parents and caregivers in developing their children’s early literacy skills.
Our Priority Areas
The Make Way for Books App is a two-generation, early literacy, and early education resource. The app empowers and supports families in connecting and bonding with their children in their own language, in a way that is relevant and reflective of their culture by providing access to high quality books, early education, and the science and research about early literacy and language development.
Through the books we create for the app, we have the ability to represent children and families’ experiences authentically through the characters in our stories. Towards this goal, we work actively to amplify the voices of authors and artists that are not typically represented in children’s book publishing, such as Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color; LGBTQIAP2S+ people; people with disabilities; and all groups and people negatively impacted by systemic racism.
Our App Audience
There are readers everywhere with to-be-read books that pile as high as the moon! Now is your chance to give a young reader the same feeling of variety in their reading selection. We are always interested in books filled with diverse characters and that address a variety of themes including feelings and emotions, families and cultures, and more about the world. We look for both fictional stories and non-fictional ones. Rhyming and repetition engage young readers. And, subjects like nature, the community, counting, colors, shapes, and vehicles are welcome.
Make Way for Books recognizes that parents and caregivers are their child's first and best teachers. The books and activities we offer emphasize meaningful, loving interactions between parent and child as the most important thing they can do to help them grow. Let's reach for the stars and provide high-quality books for young children and their families!
The most important consideration in selecting manuscripts for the Make Way for Books app is how well the submission matches the developmental needs of the age group—infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Some children may even grow up with the app! However, each age group has its developmental needs. Learning to read takes time, four to six years at least. The brain has to develop all sorts of connections! Our goal is to help parents and caregivers make reading experiences a beneficial and fun activity that engages the child at their developmental level.
We will evaluate your submission related to child development information and best practices for young children. Here are more specifics for each age group.
For infants, we include books of chants, songs, and rhymes that the adult reads and recites with the child in a back and forth, serve and return manner. The Read Now books on the app for infants are meant to be used to support these interactions. Knowing the cautions regarding technology and our youngest children, we advocate that the parent follows along and rhymes, sings, and plays with their baby rather than giving them the phone. Doing this helps develop important language skills and is a great opportunity for parents to bond with their baby. Please keep this in mind when submitting manuscripts for infants.
Like babies, toddlers are still figuring out how their family communicates with each other. They listen intently and attempt to join in conversations with words, short phrases, and sentences. Therefore, the emphasis is still on back and forth, serve and return interactions which help develop important language, vocabulary, and comprehension skills and provide a great opportunity for parents to bond with their toddler.
Toddlers understand more about how language works and can figure out what the stories in books are about and make predictions about what will happen. Toddler Read Now books should be a little shorter, because we know that toddlers can have quite short attention spans. And, just like babies, toddlers love songs chants, rhymes, and repetition—it makes reading fun! Wordless (illustration-only) books are also a great choice at this age, and allow a parent to tailor the story to their child’s attention span.
Preschoolers love to talk with others! They are curious and ask lots of questions. They want to know and understand how the world works and what’s important in their family. They are figuring out who they are and how to love and learn. The Make Way for Books app emphasizes the importance of serve and return interactions for preschoolers, too. The Read Now books for this age group help build important connections in the child's brain and encourage parents to talk, read, sing, and play with their child. Preschooler Read Now books can be a little longer and deal with themes that are a bit more complex. They can also be filled with songs, rhymes, poems, and word play.
Preschoolers pay attention to the sounds of language. This is an important step toward learning to read. Stories can make them laugh, teach them something, show them about different families and cultures, and give them a window into the world of nature. Alphabet and counting books expose them to the symbols of reading, writing, and math. Wordless books (illustration-only) are also a great choice for preschoolers. At this age, parents and children can come up with stories for the illustrations together.
All are designed for an adult to read with their child as a way to support them in their journey to becoming a reader. Doing this helps develop important language, vocabulary, and comprehension skills and provides a great opportunity for parent and child to bond together.
Make Way for Books will be accepting manuscripts for children’s picture books. Follow these guidelines as you are preparing to submit.
Please submit the following:
A query letter—briefly tell us about your picture book and why you believe it's a good fit for the Make Way for Books App.
For writers: 250 words or fewer is recommended for toddlers, 600 words or fewer for preschoolers.
For writer-Illustrators: all of the above word counts apply; please also include a link to your portfolio.
We welcome wordless (illustration-only) stories.
For non-fiction manuscripts, please provide references to ensure the accuracy of the content.
One manuscript only, please. We will not accept multiple submissions from the same person.
We happily accept submissions from anyone. Previously published authors, unpublished authors, and authors with or without agents.
Submitting doesn't have to be stressful. Here are some additional guidelines for when you're ready to submit.
Please send all submissions by emailing us directly at email@example.com.
Please include the following:
Your subject line should specify that the submission is a “Make Way for Books App Manuscript Submission.”
In the body of the email please include: your name and a brief biography (should be in 3rd person, about 40-50 words).
Please include your query and manuscript submission as a SINGLE attachment (please do NOT copy and paste into the body of the email).
Manuscripts must be in .doc or .docx format and any illustrations must be in .pdf format.
You've submitted and taken the leap, now it's time to fly! Once we have received your submission via email, we will review your manuscript/query and respond to as many as we are able.
NOTE: We cannot guarantee that every submitted manuscript/query will receive feedback. If your work is chosen to receive feedback from our team, this also does NOT guarantee that your work will be published on the Make Way for Books App.
You will receive a notification via email notifying you if your manuscript/query is moving forward to our team to read. We will also notify you if we decide not to move forward with your submission.
Because we are accepting children’s picture book manuscripts, we ask that all submissions exclude explicit content dealing with violence, gore, substance abuse, etc. We do not accept erotica or works with graphic sexual scenes.
You will retain all rights to your creative work. We will NOT be offering compensation for writing a manuscript to be published on the Make Way for Books App. We do NOT charge reading fees as this is an educational, not-for-profit project.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I submit more than one manuscript?
No, one manuscript per person only, please.
If I submit my manuscript, does that mean it will definitely receive feedback and be read by your team?
No, we cannot guarantee that every submitted manuscript will receive feedback, however, all submissions will be reviewed by our team.
If I submit my manuscript to the Make Way for Books App, should I hold off on submitting it to other writing competitions and publications?
No, not at all! Please continue to submit your work to other competitions and publications.
Is this a writing competition or contest?
No, the Make Way for Books App is an educational, early literacy resource for families. We are not a contest and there are no "winners" or "rules" for submitting your manuscript.
I accidentally sent the wrong manuscript. May I re-submit the correct version?
Yes! Please note in your email that this manuscript is the correct version.
Can I submit an illustration-only or wordless manuscript?
Are you only accepting submissions from the United States?
No, we accept submissions from all over the world!
Are you charging a reading fee?
No, we are a completely free educational project.
Can I email you to check on the status of my submission?
After submitting your manuscript, please refrain from emailing us to check in on the status of your submission. You will receive a notification from us via email if your manuscript is moving forward. We will also notify you if we decide not to move forward with your submission.