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 writing contests for kids and other opportunities might help give emerging writers their first chance at publication.
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 if your child applies to a writing competition and gets rejected or doesn’t win any writing prize, encourage your kids to persevere and keep writing. (Feel free to share stories of authors such as Madeline L’Engle, J.K. Rowlings, and Dr. Seuss, who were rejected for publishing a lot.)
When you’re looking at these writing contests, suggest that kids read through the past winners or published pieces to get an idea of what the contest or publication is looking for in a writing piece.
Revision, of course, is essential. You can help by giving kids specific feedback on technique — revision tips here. If your child is writing a short story or children’s fiction piece, make sure their story has a story arc. And insist that they proofread a million times to be sure they’re not sending in something with errors! Check my NanNoWriMo for Kids post for more writing and revision tips.
All that being said, publishing can be a very motivational goal. Encourage your kids to write essays, short stories, poetry, and creative nonfiction and apply for opportunities like these. But remind your writers that failure only means that they haven’t been published YET.
Consider carefully writing contests with entry fees. I have mixed feelings about fees because sometimes they do pay for hiring judges but other times, I worry that it means the contest is simply a money-maker for them.
**Check the comments for more contests.
Writing Contests for Kids
Roald Dahl’s ImaginormousChallenge
ages: 5 – 12
Details: In this unique writing contest, kids submit story ideas in 100 words or less. The only judging criterion, in true Wonka style, is pure imagination. Five winners will get a Golden Ticket. See the website for all the prizes and opportunities.
ages: 8 – 12
Details: Check the website for deadlines for their spring and fall writing contests. Cash prizes. $15 fee.
Funny Festive Fables
ages: 7 – 13
In this writing contest, kids are asked to write a funny short story.
National Youth Foundation
ages: grades K – 8
Details: It looks like you’ll be submitting a 20 to 30 page book with writing and art that incorporates the contest theme of anti-bullying.
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
The Scholastic Awards look for work in writing and art that demonstrates originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. Teenagers can apply to 28 art and writing categories including flash fiction, critical essay, digital art, humor, novel writing, personal essay, poetry, short story, and ceramics. The Scholastic writing contest is highly competitive, so submit your best work!
Literary Magazines and Online Publications for Kids and Teens
These publications are looking for submissions. These are NOT contests.
Hutch Magazine: A Creativity Magazine by Kids for Kids
ages: grades 1 to 8
Hutch publishes art and writing submissions around a theme that imparts positive values and promotes self-esteem. Check the website for the latest theme and parent consent and media release forms.
ages 17 and younger
Story Monsters is seeking articles, essays, book reviews, poems, short stories, and drawings.
ages: 12 years and younger
Submit art, stories, essays, and poetry.
ages: 9 – 14
Details: Cricket is a well-known children’s magazine. Enter fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writing in this kids’ literary magazine. The magazine used to take submissions from young writers but now they’re offering other opportunities here: NewPages Writing Contests for Young Writers writing.
ages: 13 and YOUNGER
Details: This magazine receives a lot of submissions, so read carefully what actually gets published for a better chance. It accepts stories, book reviews, and poems. $3 entry fee.
ages: not stated
A literary arts magazine from a library, check back to see when submissions open for poetry, short stories, essays, comics, and artwork.
ages: 7 to 17
Details: This publication has a multicultural focus for its writing opportunities for kids. Send in essays, interviews, poems, plays, or short stories. $5 fee. Winners are 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: This is a literary magazine (ezine) for kids with submission themes here. If your work is accepted (articles, fiction, poetry), then the magazine will own it 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!
Chautauqua Young Voices
ages: middle and high school
Submissions can be in nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or flash.
ages: 10 – 18
Details: This publication is searching for compelling poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction that paint images with language. (THESE ARE NOT CONTESTS.)
Scholastic News Kids Press Corps
ages: 10 – 14
Apply to be on a team of kid reporters from across the country and around the world covers “news for kids, by kids.” Kid writers who are ages 10–14 with a passion for telling great stories and discussing issues that matter most to kids are encouraged to apply in the spring for the following school year.
ages 13 – 24
An online literary zine aimed at young adult writers. They are looking for writing in any genre.
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.
Canvas Literary Journal
ages: 13 – 18
Canvas Teen Literary Journal is a quarterly journal that publishes the work of teen writers which are read and rated by a board of teen editors. If they’re not accepting submissions, follow them on social media to find out when submissions will open again.
ages: ages 16+
Details: This magazine publishes kids’ writing and will publish: drawings, poems, jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, stories, science questions, and book reviews. At the time of publication, they are closed to submissions.