I’ve been searching for writing contests for kids for my daughter and her friend. Many kids, like mine, want to write for an audience; they’d love to be published. This round-up of opportunities might just help give young writers their first chance.
Let me also suggest that you temper your kids enthusiasm with a bit of reality. It’s a tricky thing because you don’t want to be a killjoy but you also want your children to understand that good, award-winning writing is hard work and takes dedication. So even when faced with rejection, or not winning, kids need to persevere and keep writing. (Feel free to share stories authors such as Madeline L’Engle, J.K. Rowlings, and Dr. Seuss who were rejected for publishing A LOT.)
Also, it’s important that kids read through the past winners or published pieces so they get an idea of what the contest or publication is looking for.
Revision, of course, is essential. You can help by giving kids specific feedback on technique — printable revision tips here. Make sure your story has a story arc. And, proofread a million times to be sure you’re not sending in something with errors!
Check my NanNoWriMo for Kids post for more writing and revision tips.
Writing Contests for Kids
Scholastic’s Kids are Authors
ages: K – 8
Details: This unique writing contests asks kids to collaborate in groups of three or more and the entries must be between 21 – 29 pages, illustrations included. (Text + illustration = 1 page.) The deadline is March 15, 2016 and is the last time for this contest. See all the rules and info here.
PBS Kids Go! Writer’s Contest
ages: K – 3rd grade
Details: This isn’t the easiest contest to enter since it depends on local PBS stations and local stations also pick the winners. Word count depends on your grade but is about 100 – 200 words. Rules here.
ages: 8 – 12
Details: Check the website for deadlines for their spring and fall writing contests. Cash prizes. $15 fee.
ages: K – 6 grade
Details: Monthly winners in ongoing writing contest. Check the website for details.
ages: not stated
Details: Check the website for new contests.
ages: grades 3 – 5, grades 6 – 8, grades 9 – 12
Details: Science fiction or fantasy story on any topic. The only limits are your imagination and the short list of rules. No entry fee. There are small cash awards for the winners in each category. The submissions will be evaluated by a panel of teachers (retired and current).
Neuroscience Kids Poetry Contest
ages: K – 12
Details: Due Feb. 1!
Building Stories Contest / The Henry Ford
ages: 3rd – 12th grades
Details: Each year has a unique writing prompt. That 2016 prompt is to write about Rosa Parks.
Mrs. P’s Be a Famous Writer
ages: K-4th grades
Details: Submissions open from September to mid-November each year with a yearly prompt.
ages: 5 – 12
This online literary magazine holds writing and drawing competitions throughout the year about a specific theme.
Use the illustration provided to write a story.
Young Writers Explore Learning (UK ONLY)
ages: 14 and under
Details: A UK based contest judged by author Lauren Child with specific prompts.
Magazines and Online Publications for Kids’ Writing
Creative Kids Magazine
ages: 8 – 16
Details: Cartoons, songs, plays, stories and more are accepted for submission. If you’re choose, your work will appear in the magazine.
ages: not stated
Details: This magazine publishes kid writing but also will publish: drawings, poems, jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, stories, science questions, and book reviews.
ages: 13 and YOUNGER
Details: This magazine receives a lot of submissions so read through what actually gets published for a better chance. It accepts stories, book reviews, and poems. $3 fee.
ages: 7 to 17
Details: This publication has a multicultural focus. Send in essays, interviews, poems, plays, or short stories. $5 fee. Winners published in their autumn issue.
ages: not stated
Details: This is an Irish publication but accepts entries from anywhere in the world.
Guardian Angel Kids
ages: up to age 14
Details: Themes for submissions here. If your work is accepted (articles, fiction, poetry) then the magazine will own in and will pay you for your work. Just be sure that if your writing is accepted, you don’t post it anywhere else since you will not own it anymore.
ages: 10 – 18
Details: This publication is searching for compelling poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction that paint images with language.
ages: 0 – 14, 14+
Details: This girls magazine is looking for artwork and fiction stories.
Details: This is an online writing community meant to encourage teen writers to write and share their work. You can post your work and get feedback as well as give feedback to other writers. Contests are posted throughout the year.
Details: This magazine loves SF/fantasy and historical fiction as well as narrative nonfiction about teen topics.
Details: This is an online writing community with a wealth of opportunities for young writers.
More publication opportunities for young writers are listed on this website but this list isn’t always current.