1. Parenting

8 Writing Contests for Kids

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It's not always easy to get your kids motivated to write. One way to get them to polish their writing skills is to have them enter a writing contest. Sometimes just the idea of recognition is enough to get those pencils to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

1. PBS KIDS GO! Writer’s Contest (Gr. K-3)

Brother and sister looking at laptop together at home
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This writing contest has both a regional and national component. After reading the contest guidelines--which include helpful information about how to brainstorm and outline a story and the elements of a story--kids can submit illustrated stories to their local PBS station. Each station chooses winners, who are then submitted for entry in the national contest.

2. TIME for Kids' TFK Kid Reporter Contest (Ages 13 and younger)

TIME for Kids is a non-fiction weekly news magazine for classrooms, a child-oriented version of its parent, TIME Magazine. Many of the articles are written by TFK’s Kid Reporters, a job for which the magazine opens a talent search each year in March--the TFK Kid Reporter Contest. Entrants must be 13 years old or younger and write a compelling news story about a school or community event, complete with a headline and interview subjects.

3. Kids Are Authors (Scholastic)

This annual contest is unique in that it focuses on kids working collaboratively to create a piece of illustrated work in the form of a children’s book. The 21-29 page book can be fiction or non-fiction and must be created by a group of three or more students.

Not only does this writing contest help kids learn to work together, but it also teaches them about formatting manuscripts for children’s books, as submissions must be formatted according to the guidelines. The winning book is published by Scholastic and sold at Scholastc Book Fairs across the nation.

4. Letters About Literature (Gr. 4 to 12)

Sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the annual Letters About Literature is an interesting competition in that it combines both reading and writing. Students must write an essay (in the form of a letter) describing how a certain book or author had a profound effect on their outlook on life.

Students are grouped by age into three different levels, all of which are judged at both a state and national level. Entries are judged on the merits of composition (grammar, organization and language skills); content (how well the theme has been addressed) and voice. National winners receive a monetary or gift card prize as well as sizeable “LAL Reading Promotion” grant in their name for the local school district.

5. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (Gr. 7 to 12)

This prestigious contest was begun in 1923 and has had such notable people as Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates and Truman Capote amongst its winners.

Writers in grades 7 through 12 may submit work in one or more of the following categories:
Dramatic Script, Flash Fiction, Humor, Journalism, Personal Essay, Persuasive Writing, Poetry, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Short Story and Novel Writing.

Entries are judged both regionally and nationally--the highest level regional work is submitted for national consideration. National level winners are published in anthologies and Scholastic publications.

6. Weekly Reader's Student Publishing Contest (Gr. 3 to 12)

This national, nonfiction writing contest is sponsored by the Association of Educational Publishers (and Weekly Reader) and is split into two age categories: grades 3--8 and grades 9-12. Kids can submit memoirs, essays or news stories between 500 and 2,500 words or submit original print or online student publication for consideration. Only five winners are chosen, each of whom will get a round-trip flight to Washington, D.C. (and one for a parent or teacher-sponsor) to attend the award ceremony, as well as a SMART board, plaque and check for their school.

7. Stone Soup Magazine (Ages 13 and younger)

Though technically not a contest, Stone Soup magazine publishes stories (2500 words or shorter), poetry and book reviews by kids 13 and younger. Not all submissions will be published and kids are encouraged to read the Stone Soup archives to get a sense of what type of writing the editors are looking for. The great thing about Stone Soup is that kids can submit as often as they want, regardless of previous rejection or acceptance for publication.

8. Creative Kids Magazine (Ages 8 to 16)

Like Stone Soup, Creative Kids magazine is not a contest,but a publication written for kids by kids. Kids can submit for consideration everything from stories and songs to editorials and plays. The magazine is published quarterly and submitted work is read not only by editors, but also by an advisory a board comprised of students between the ages of 8 and 16 years old.

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