Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Read Local Challenge FAQ

Cropped US map with Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Washington DC, and West Virginia highlighted, and the words "Take the Read Local Challenge!" in bold -- with the URL

FAQ for Readers / Teachers & Librarians / Booksellers / KidLit Creators

What is the Read Local Challenge?

A reading incentive program sponsored by the MD/DE/WV region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, featuring traditionally-published authors and illustrators in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, Delaware, and West Virginia. The challenge consists of three levels: Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult, and it runs from October 1st through May 31st each year.

Read Local Challenge KidLit Creators will:

Connect with ONE (1) class or group, either in-person, online, or via the mail at least TWO (2) times during the Read Local Challenge year (October 1st through May 31st). As an example, you might schedule a 15-minute Zoom meeting at the beginning of the challenge to introduce yourselves to each other, and then exchange letters at some later point in the challenge year. It is up to you and your adopted KidLit Creator to decide how, when, and how often you will connect.

Send ONE (1) signed copy of their Read Local Challenge book to the school or library associated with the class/group to which they are assigned.

Offer a 10% discount on their speaking fees to ANY school/library/group who mentions the Read Local Challenge (even if it’s not the one that “adopted” them)!

Schools/Groups agree to:

Read along with us! With so many local authors and illustrators in 3 different challenge levels, we have something available for all readers.

Share opportunities to meet with Read Local Challenge authors/illustrators in your area, or online, when appropriate.

Show respect! We love meeting with our readers and making real-life connections. Please remember that we are people too, and show the same courtesy to our KidLit Creators as you would like people to show you!

How do I sign up? Do I have to make an account or something? What will you do with the information you collect?

No sign-ups necessary. No pledges to sign or quizzes to take. Just grab a book from our current challenge list and start reading!

You can read individually, with a small group of friends or family members, or as a team with your entire class/school/group!

We won’t collect personally-identifying information from individual readers, so you don’t have to worry.


If there are no sign-ups, what makes it a challenge?

You can challenge yourself or compete against your friends, your family, or your entire school. Who will win in your group? Will it be the one who reads the most? The one with the best book-themed Halloween costume? The one who recommends the most books to help their classmates find their new favorite books? It’s YOUR challenge, so YOU get to make the rules!


How does the Read Local Challenge Passport work?

Pick up a Read Local Challenge Passport from your participating school, library, or bookstore to keep track of your reading progress. — Or download a passport here.

Choose a challenge level, and read at least one book from our list. You don’t have to read them all, but with so many amazing books, you may want to!

Fill the spaces on your passport by completing any of our suggested passport challenge activities – or create your own! Spaces may be signed by the KidLit Creators you meet, or by a parent, teacher, librarian, or bookseller.

Are there prizes?

Yes! Bring your completed Read Local Challenge Passport to a participating bookstore to redeem it for prizes like a discount on your next purchase, a free cookie from the café, or even a free advance copy of an upcoming book!*

* Each participating bookstore has set its own prize for the challenge, so be sure to check out our Read Local Challenge Partner pages to find out the details for your favorite bookstore! Don’t see them listed? Share this link and encourage them to sign up.


I heard there was a grand prize. How do I sign up for that?

Just click to Nominate a School or Libarary! Tell us where you live (just the state–no personally-identifying information will be collected!) and which books you have read. If a whole class / group reads a book together, you may enter once for EACH person in that class / group, which gives your nominated school or library extra entries!

You may nominate ANY school or library to win our Grand Prize, even if it’s not YOUR school! We will pick one winner to receive a collection of Read Local Challenge books, purchased from the independent bookseller closest to the winner!**

**The grand prize winner will be selected from all schools, libraries, and other literacy-minded organizations nominated within the Maryland / Virginia / Washington DC / Delaware / West Virginia area. We reserve the right to also choose one or more secondary winners from all schools / libraries / groups nominated, if funds allow.

How do I connect with authors and illustrators?

Meet local KidLit Creators by attending (in-person or virtual) events sponsored by your local bookstores or libraries. Check out our Read Local Events calendar for details on upcoming appearances and virtual events.

Or invite a local author or illustrator to your school, library, bookstore, or group meeting. For both in-person and virtual events, every participating KidLit Creator has agreed to give a 10% discount on their speaking fees for the entire challenge year (October 1st through May 31st).

For Teachers & Librarians

What is the Adopt a KidLit Creator program?

Each participating KidLit Creator will connect with up to ONE class for this challenge year. Teachers, school librarians, or administrators may sign up by filling out this form.*** You will have the opportunity to choose one class from your school to connect with the author or illustrator via short emails, informal video chats, or by mailing letters during the challenge year.

This is a celebration of literacy, and a chance to get to know one of our Read Local Challenge KidLit Creators in an informal setting. The connections are meant to be informal interactions between new friends, not writing workshops or presentations.

If you would like to have your adopted KidLit Creator speak to your whole grade, or your whole school, or if you would like to take advantage of one of our many amazing writing workshops and presentations, now is the time! Each participating author and illustrator has agreed to give a 10% discount on their speaking fees to any schools, libraries, or groups participating in the Read Local Challenge.

***Preference for connections will go first to schools within the MD/VA/DC/WV/DE region. If space allows, upon request, we may connect our KidLit Creators to classes outside our Read Local Challenge region. Connecting with one of our Read Local Challenge KidLit Creators is not a guarantee. If all of our authors and illustrators are already assigned to classes, you may sign up to get on our wait list for next year.

What if we want to schedule an author panel or invite an individual author for our upcoming event?

To invite an individual author to your event, please contact them directly. You can find their contact information on their SCBWI Speaker Profiles, which are all linked here. – Make sure to mention the Read Local Challenge to request your discount!

To set up a panel of KidLit Creators for your event, you may email our Read Local Coordinator, Veronica Bartles ( Please use the subject line “Read Local Challenge Request” and provide as many details as possible, including:

*date & time for your event

*number of KidLit Creators requested

*budget for the event (please specify whether this is a per-creator honorarium, or total budget for the event)


Our school / library has a very small budget. How can I participate in the Read Local Challenge?

You may request a Read Local Challenge Kit and/or sign up to Adopt a KidLit Creator for free. We will happily send you posters, passports, and stickers for your students. The challenge is designed to allow for great flexibility so that readers in many different circumstances can participate together.

If you would like to invite our KidLit Creators to give a more formal presentation, there are lots of grants and other funds for the arts that might help supplement your budget. Look for opportunities to apply for those!

And each of our KidLit Creators has agreed to give a 10% discount on their speaking fees for the entire challenge year, so now is the time to act, if your budget is tight.

We are committed to building a love of reading in our communities, and we would be happy to work with you to figure out how to best serve your needs!

Can my scout troop / homeschool group / co-op sign up to adopt a Read Local KidLit Creator? Does it have to be a school or library?

We want to connect with our readers, wherever they may be. If you have a group of readers, we want to meet you! Feel free to fill out the form to request a connection. Please note: school classes within our Read Local Challenge geographical area will have top priority in assigning KidLit Creator matches. If we have more requests than we can fulfill, you may not be matched with a creator this year. We will still send you a Read Local Starter Kit, and we encourage you to come to our events, and/or to invite any of our Read Local Challenge KidLit Creators to your events for a discounted rate.

Can we still participate if we can’t adopt a KidLit Creator or invite one to do an event with us?

Yes! If you represent a school, library, homeschool group, scout troop, book club … or any other group that would like to promote a love of reading, you may request a Read Local Starter Kit by emailing our Read Local Coordinator, Veronica Bartles, or filling out this form.

We will send you a package with 2 full-color Read Local Challenge posters, a classroom set of 25 Read Local Challenge Passports, stickers, and more. (You may request more posters and/or passports while supplies last.)

And please check out our Resources page for games and activities that can be used in your classrooms to promote a love of reading.

For Booksellers

My store isn’t open physically to customers right now. How do I participate?

We would love to coordinate virtual events with you! Join our “Pass the Book” promotion. Schedule a virtual panel with authors and illustrators. Partner with us for online writing workshops. … There are so many possibilities (maybe even something we haven’t thought of yet!)

How can my customers fill in their passport spaces for attending author events if we’re not open physically?

Virtual events count too! Even when we’re apart physically, we can still connect through digital workshops, panels, and our “Pass the Book” initiative.


What is this “Pass the Book” initiative I’ve been hearing about? How can I participate?

This initiative is a fun way for our readers to meet this year’s KidLit creators and the fabulous books on our list, while also getting to know the booksellers and librarians that can help them find their new favorite book. It’s easy to join in the fun!

Send us an introduction video, where you introduce yourself and your bookstore (or library). Then, pick up one of your favorite Read Local Challenge books from this year’s list, show it to the camera, say something about why you love it (if you would like), and then pass it offscreen. We will match your video up with one from the author or illustrator, where they will receive the book passed to them from offscreen and introduce themselves or their book before passing it along.

They can either “pass it back to you” (you will record a second video where you receive their book, and then pick up another book to pass to the next author), or they can “pass it along” to the next author in the cycle. The last author (we have found that a grouping of 2-4 authors per “Pass the Book” compilation works best) will pass the book back to you for a wrap up. For this, you will need to send us another video where you will invite the readers to come Read Local with us in your store. For some examples of Pass the Book video compilation options, click here.


I want to “Pass the Book” with you, but I’m really busy this week (or month). What is the deadline?

We’ll be celebrating a love of literacy and the community-building relationships that form when we read books by local KidLit creators all year long! If you can’t send us a video this week, that’s okay. Our Read Local Challenge goes from October through May each year, and we would love to put together a Pass the Book video with you anytime!


Am I the only Read Local Challenge Partner Bookstore in my area? How many bookstores are you accepting into the program?

We believe that the strongest community bonds grow when we connect with as many people and groups as possible. Our readers might find the perfect community connection with you, or with the bookstore across town. Or both. And when we strengthen our communities, we all benefit! We invite you all to join us in building a strong community of readers.


What if I want to schedule an author panel for my upcoming event? Or invite an author to do a workshop in my store … How do I schedule these?

To invite an individual author to your event, please contact them directly. You can find their contact information on their SCBWI Speaker Profiles, which are all linked here.

To set up a panel of KidLit Creators for your event, you may email our Read Local Coordinator, Veronica Bartles ( Please use the subject line “Read Local Challenge Request” and provide as many details as possible, including:

*date/time for your event

*number of KidLit Creators requested

*budget for the event (please specify whether this is a per-creator honorarium, or total budget for the event)

For Authors & Illustrators

I’m a KidLit Creator! How can I participate in the Read Local Challenge?

Click here to sign up for the next challenge!

If you are a Published and Listed member of SCBWI within the MD/DE/WV or Mid-Atlantic regions, we would love to have you join us! (You will need to provide the link to your SCBWI profile page to verify that you are a PAL member of our regions.)

You are eligible to be a featured KidLit Creator if you…

* Have a traditionally-published book currently in print from one of the PAL publishers on SCBWI’s list

* Live in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia, or Delaware

* Are a Published and Listed member of SCBWI (check your member profile for your membership level, if you are unsure)


My book is still in print, but it was published last year (or earlier). Can I participate?

Yes! We firmly believe that books never expire! And since our reach with the Read Local Challenge expands every year, there are always new readers to introduce your books to! Feel free to promote one of your backlist titles, if you would prefer, as long as it is in print, and available for bookstores/schools/libraries to order. – (Books must be in print! You wouldn’t want frustrated readers who can’t order copies of your book!)


I live in this region, and my book is traditionally published, but I’m not a member of SCBWI. Can I be a part of this challenge?

Unfortunately, no. Because the challenge is sponsored by our local SCBWI region and run exclusively by volunteers with day jobs, family commitments, and writing careers of our own to juggle, it is easiest for us to coordinate the challenge through established SCBWI channels. We will link to each participating author/illustrator’s SCBWI speaker profile to make it easy for schools/libraries to contact them, and for readers to find their books. If you aren’t a PAL member of SCBWI, even if we know and love your books, you won’t have the appropriate profile for us to link to … which means extra work for our volunteers.

But good news! It’s really easy to join SCBWI, and if your book for children has been published by a traditional publishing house that meets SCBWI’s PAL Publisher Guidelines (see SCBWI’s PAL Publishers list), you will automatically be granted Published and Listed status and be eligible for the Read Local Challenge.


My book is self-published, but it’s sold lots of copies, and it relates to real events that happened locally. Can I be a part of this challenge?

Your book sounds amazing, and we probably have it on our “To Be Read” lists, if we haven’t already read it! Unfortunately, most self-published books aren’t readily-accessible to schools and libraries for purchase, as they aren’t in the systems that these buyers typically use when creating their book purchasing plans. (This is the “listed” part of the “published and listed” designation.) It’s frustrating for readers and authors alike when a challenge book is difficult to find, and joining the Read Local Challenge wouldn’t be the best use of your marketing resources in this case. It might even hinder your efforts!

But in promoting our challenge, we do sometimes have people reach out to us with opportunities to showcase indie authors! When this happens, we love to forward the invitations to the many talented, self-published folks in our area through our SCBWI regional emails and social media platforms.


My book is published by a small press that isn’t on SCBWI’s list, even though they deserve to be. I asked SCBWI to add them to the list, but they haven’t yet. I can prove that my publisher is legitimate. (I have receipts!) Can I be a part of this challenge? I don’t want to miss out on a chance to promote my book!

Your publisher might very well fit the criteria that SCBWI follows for the publishers on the list. And if that’s the case, they will be added once the very busy volunteers at SCBWI headquarters have a chance to finish researching/verifying the status.

Please be patient! We understand that sometimes it feels like this is an arbitrary restriction meant to reward the “elite” authors who check off the right boxes, but I promise we have your best interests at heart!

Unfortunately, not all small publishers (even legitimate ones!) have their systems set up for their books to be readily-accessible to schools and libraries for purchase. If they aren’t in the systems that these buyers use when creating their book purchasing plans, your book can’t be purchased for their collections, no matter how good it is. The volunteers at SCBWI headquarters have to make sure the systems are in place for this wide distribution before they verify the publisher on the list. Sometimes it feels like this process takes forever, but patience really does pay off. Believe us, it’s frustrating for readers and authors alike when a challenge book is difficult to find. And we would hate to have schools and libraries write you off completely because they couldn’t find you! Sometimes, it’s better to wait. (We’d love to have you join us next year!)


My book is out of print, but I bought out all of the remaining stock, so schools and libraries can still buy copies from me. Can I be a part of the challenge?

Unfortunately, no. Most school and library purchasing systems are not set up to buy books from individuals, so they won’t be able to take advantage of your generous offer. And as we mentioned above, it’s frustrating for readers when they can’t find the books listed in our challenge.

But don’t worry! When your next book is ready, you can join us again!


I am a PAL author or illustrator, but the book I would like to feature is self-published (or published by a small press that isn’t on SCBWI’s PAL list). Can I still participate?

All books featured on the Read Local Challenge list each year MUST be traditionally published by one of the publishers on SCBWI’s PAL Publishers list. I’m sorry, but we cannot make exceptions, because books that aren’t on this list are less-likely to be available in the systems schools and libraries use to purchase their books, which might leave a negative impression with them. We want to highlight you in the best ways possible!


But what if I can confirm that my self-published book is distributed by Ingram? Or Baker & Taylor? Or through the self-publishing arm of a publisher on SCBWI’s list?

Please only submit books that are traditionally published by listed publishers.

Even if your book is high-quality, and you’ve set it up for the best distribution available via your chosen self-publishing platforms, the reality is that it likely still won’t be in the same lists or purchasing systems as the traditionally published books through the publishers on the SCBWI list. We have seen the frustration for all involved parties when a book slips through the cracks and onto our list (schools are more likely to write off a KidLit creator entirely if they can’t find the featured book than to go searching for that creator’s other books), so we ask that you not try to skirt the rules. We do often have promotional opportunities that arise for self-published authors through our connections with the Read Local Challenge promotion, and we will always pass those opportunities along to all SCBWI members of our regions.


I don’t have an official cover image / purchase link / ISBN for my book yet. Can I still sign up?

Yes, you may. Just enter placeholder values in those spaces for now, and come back to add that information ASAP. Please be aware that I cannot guarantee that I will be able to hold a place open for your book, however. If I don’t have your information by the time I have to submit the completed files to the printer for the poster, or the finished book list to our partner schools / libraries / bookstores … or if the available spaces in your book’s category fill up with fully-completed entries before I get all of the relevant information from you, I won’t be able to hold a space open. As always, if it looks like things are filling up, or I’m reaching my deadline and haven’t heard from you, I will email you to check on your status. (And if you still don’t have the necessary information at that point, it’s okay. You can always join us next year!)


I was a part of the challenge last year. Can I sign up again?

Yes! As long as your book is still in print, through one of the PAL publishers on SCBWI’s list!

Our connections with schools, libraries, and bookstores are constantly growing, and there may be a new school/library participating this year that is looking for a book JUST LIKE YOURS!


Is there a cost to participate, as an author or illustrator?

Yes. There is a fee for all Read Local Challenge authors/illustrators to help offset the costs of the program. Some of these costs include:

* Full-color Read Local Challenge Posters

* Passports, stickers, & other items to promote the Read Local Challenge books

* Postage for sending Read Local materials to interested schools/libraries/bookstores, etc.

* Purchasing a selection of Read Local Challenge books for the grand prize winner, from a local independent bookstore


There isn’t a payment link on the sign-up form. How do I pay my fee?

After our volunteers have looked over your entry and verified that all of the information is complete and accurate, we will send you a link to invite you to submit your fee and secure your spot on our next challenge. Please be patient, as this can be a very time-consuming process, and our volunteers have limited time available. (They may have deadlines on their own books as well!)


I have more than one book coming out this year. Can I sign up to feature more than one book?


You may enter up to two books in two DIFFERENT challenge levels (PB & MG, or PB & YA, for example — but NOT 2 picture books or two young adult novels).

We want to feature as many different authors/illustrators as possible in each category, so if you have 2 picture books, or 2 middle grade novels, for example, we ask you to pick only ONE. We hope that the readers who take our challenge will enjoy your books enough to keep reading other titles you may have available, and we will list others in a “suggested reading” list, so your other book(s) may be included there.


What is required of me, as a Read Local Challenge KidLit Creator?

All read local challenge authors & illustrators agree to:

* Offer a 10% discount on their speaking fees to anyone participating in the Read Local Challenge for the entire challenge period (10/1 – 5/31)

* Connect with ONE (1) local class as an “Adopted KidLit Creator” at least TWO (2) times during the challenge year (Connections can be in-person, online, or by email … or even via good old-fashioned letters! For instance, you might have a 15-minute Skype visit to introduce yourself early in the challenge year, and then exchange letters later.)

* Send ONE (1) signed copy of their Read Local Challenge featured book to their adopted class

* Commit to promoting ALL Read Local Authors/Illustrators throughout the challenge period via:

— Social media blasts (share your favorite Read Local books online)

Instagram and/or Facebook Takeover events (you will take over the Read Local Challenge Instagram or Facebook page to share your book and let our readers get to know you better)

— Newsletter shares (if you have an author/illustrator mailing list, you can mention the challenge–and your favorite Read Local Challenge books!)

— Other opportunities, as they arise


Am I required to offer Skype/Zoom visits if I sign up to participate in the challenge? I’ve never done this before, and I don’t know how.

We encourage you to offer virtual visits, but it is not required. We know readers are excited to make live connections with our KidLit Creators in this increasingly-digital world. We would like to encourage this as much as possible.

If you would like to offer virtual visits, but you’re nervous about trying something new … don’t worry! We can ease into it together. ?


What else do you need from me?

Please have the following available when you fill out the sign-up form:

* a high-resolution (300 dpi & at least 4-inches) author photo

* a high-resolution (300 dpi & at least 4-inches) image of your book cover

* book details (1-paragraph blurb, publisher, publication date, ISBN, and an indie-bound or link to your book, plus 140-character 1-line description for our book list)

* author bio (2 versions: 1-paragraph intro bio, plus 140-character author “fun fact” for our poster)

* link to your SCBWI profile

* links to your website and social media profiles

* email address for which you would like to receive ALL Read Local Challenge updates

** You will receive an invitation to submit your payment once all of the information has been received/verified


So that’s it? I just have to sign up, and you’ll promote my book and schedule events for me throughout the challenge period? This sounds too good to be true!

Wouldn’t it be great if it WAS that easy?

The Read Local Challenge is a great way for local authors and illustrators in our region to connect with local readers, but it only works if we ALL work together. It’s far too much work for any one person to handle alone!

We will print up the full-color Read Local Challenge posters and distribute them to schools/libraries/booksellers. We offer FREE Read Local Kits (with full-color posters, Read Local Challenge passports, stickers, etc.) to any school/library/group who requests one. We will coordinate requests with author/illustrator availability to match hosts with authors/illustrators for their events. We will also reach out to conferences and festivals, whenever possible.

However, the success of our challenge depends upon the participation of ALL of our featured authors/illustrators.

Post the links on your websites/social media. Sign up for a chance to take over our social media feeds for the day. Celebrate the successes of your fellow authors/illustrators. Talk up the challenge with your friends / neighbors / schools / libraries / favorite bookstores. (I even carry a stack of Read Local bookmarks with me when I run errands. You never know when you might meet a reader while waiting in a long line at the grocery store!)

Couldn’t find an answer to your question? Please email Veronica Bartles, Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI MD/DE/WV and Read Local Challenge Coordinator, at