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Young Writer Contests

By Kimn Swenson Gollnick

Feeling trapped? Click here to break out of another site's frames. Scroll down to view contests.

Read "Warnings and Cautions for Writers--Contests and Vanity Anthologies," an excellent article by Victoria Strauss.
Read 10 Tips for Winning Writing Contests, another interesting article about contests.

Unless otherwise noted, deadlines are "postmark dates,"
the date stamped on your envelope by the post office while processing
the mail -- usually the day you mailed it; so don't be late!

MONTHLY CONTEST: KidPub Writing Contests,, click here for details. "KidPub runs many writing contests each year. We try to mix it up a bit...some contests are for poetry, others for essays and stories, some are a combination. The winner of each contest gets to choose their prize, either a $50 Gift Card or publication of their own book by KidPub Press. Two runners-up each receive a $25 Gift Card. Our most recent contest was to write about what happened when a fairy-tale character fell out of the book you were reading...and couldn't go back for a week!"

April 2009: Kids' Mystery Contest, Candlelight Press, get details at "Finish the mystery! Visit the website, read the story, and finish it using the online entry form. Mysteries will be judged on creativity, style, suspense and originality." FEE: NONE. PRIZES: Winning story will be published on website, and winner "will be given access to 5 of our best MP3 audio stories to download and keep."

Young Writers Contest, Guideposts, 16 East 34 Street, New York, NY 10016, "For high school juniors or seniors, or students in equivalent grades in other countries in fall of the year they apply. Write a first-person story about a memorable or moving experience you have had. Stories must be the true personal experience of the writer. Manuscripts must be typed, double spaced, with a maximum of 1,200 words. Specify Young Writers Contest clearly on the manuscript." FEE: NONE. SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED TO TOP TEN WINNERS: First Prize: $10,000; Second Prize: $8,000; Third Prize: $6,000; Fourth Prize: $4,000; Fifth Prize: $3,000; Sixth through Tenth Prizes: $1,000; Eleventh through Twentieth Prizes: $250 gift certificate for college supplies. NOTE: GUIDEPOSTS is no longer sponsoring this contest. :o(

March 15, 2009: Annual Poetry and Fiction Contest, The Claremont Review, 4980 Wesley Road, Victoria, B.C. V8Y 1Y9, Canada, "For contestants aged 13-19. Two categories: Poetry, and Fiction." See website for complete guidelines and rules. FEE: $18 for one entry, or $20 for both fiction and poetry. PRIZES: $500, $300, $200.

April 30, 2009: Teen Ink's Educator of the Year Contest, Teen Ink, PO Box 30, Newton, MA 02461, (617) 964-6800,, "For teen writers age 19 and younger. Do you know an outstanding junior/senior high school teacher, coach, guidance counselor, librarian or principal? Nominate that special teacher you'll always remember and give him/her the chance to be recognized in a national magazine! Teen Ink will only consider essays written by teens, and nominations must be for junior high or high school educators only. Please Note: Elementary school educators are not eligible. Keep your essay between 200 and 1,000 words."

June 1, 2009: 2009 National Kids-in-Print Book Contest for Students, sponsored by Landmark Editions, Inc., 1904 Foxridge Drive, Kansas City, MO 66106, get details at "A qualified panel of judges, composed of professional editors, writers, illustrators, teachers, and librarians will judge the book entries on the merits of originality and the writing and illustrating skills displayed. Winners will be notified by October 1, 2007." FEE: $10. PRIZES: Top three winners will receive a publishing contract and publication of their books, with royalties paid to each winner!

Merlyn's Pen Student Writing Contest, "For student writers in grades 6-12, or equivalent." Check this Web site for the occasional contest for students!

The InnermoonLit Award for Young Fiction Writers, sponsored by Brian Agincourt Massey, details at This site sponsors occasional contests for students. "Open to writers 17 years old and younger." In previous contests, entry was FREE (no fees) and authors retain rights to their work.

PREVIOUS CONTEST: May 15, 2006: Mustard Mystery Contest, Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, P.O. Box 468, Mount Horeb, WI 53572, "Chapter One of Murder at the Mustard Museum is complete and appears on our web site. Contestants should write their best Chapter 2 and a summary of how the story turns out. Each entry will consist of two writings - a completed Chapter Two (not to exceed 2,500 words) and a summary of how the mystery turns out (not to exceed 800 words)." FEE: NONE. PRIZES: Two divisions - ADULT: $5,000. YOUNG WRITER ("enrolled in any private or public high school as of November 1, 2005") - $250.

PREVIOUS CONTEST: September 30, 2005: CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS from Speak Up Press, get details at "All writers and artists 13-19 years old are encouraged to submit work. We especially need art!! Please make sure to send the required submission forms with submitted work, available at our website."

Resources for Teen Writers Interested in Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing - Lots of links to contests.

RESOURCES for YOUNGER WRITERS - Advice, Contests, Markets.


The Homeschool Mom, a great list of student writing and art competitions, updated in the fall. Check it out!

QUARTERLY: Ongoing Essay Contest, sponsored by, c/o Sandra Humphrey, 19 Westwood Road, Minnetonka, MN 55305. "In 300 words or less, tell us your true story about the most difficult decision you've had to make between right and wrong. New winners will be picked every three months." FEE: NONE. PRIZE: $50.

"Shout Out" Teen Writing Contest, Next Step Publishing, Inc., 86 W. Main St., Victor, NY 14564, 1-800-771-3117. "The Next Step Magazine seeks first-person accounts written by teens for teens about subjects like peer pressure, politics, friends, world events, culture, dating or other relevant topics. Be creative, and create your own topic!" FEE: NONE. PRIZE: $100.

TEEN INK ESSAY CONTESTS, monthly and semi-annual. Lots of categories! Interview, Nonfiction, "What Matters Most," Poetry, Cover Photo, Art & Photography, Fiction, Travel & Culture, Environment, and the chance to win $100 for your favorite charity with "Community Service Awards." Great opportunity for student artists, photographers, and writers.

ESSAY CONTEST FOR KIDS, sponsored by author Linda Joy Singleton, P.O Box 1357, Galt. CA 95632. For details and entry form, visit FEE: NONE. PRIZES: 1st=$100, 2nd=$50, and five honorable mentions will receive an autographed book.

"Assignment for Kids" sponsored by A monthly writing contest for kids ages 13 and under. Be brief! Only 75 words allowed.

Kids' Mystery Contest, ongoing contest sponsored by Candlelight Press, details at

Consumers Union Report on Contests: Fifteen pages of student contests. Visit

Student Poetry Contest: The American Library of Poetry, P.O. Box 978, Houlton, ME 04730, (506) 328-4964, . "The Student Poetry Contest is for school age children enrolled in grades 4-12, including tutored and home schooled children. Entrants judged in four divisions: grades 4-5, grades 6-7, grades 8-9, and grades 10-12. FEE: NONE. PRIZES: U.S. Savings Bond and Certificate of Achievement. (Please see website,, for complete details and samples of previous winners.) sponsored by Meadowbrook Press, 5451 Smetana Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343. This site offers fun activities, humorous examples, and lots of teaching ideas--great for kids, homeschool parents, and teachers. Fun to explore!

ANNUAL - JANUARY: John F. Kennedy "Profiles in Courage" Essay Contest, begins September each year, deadline in early January. Open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; U.S. students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. territories; and U.S. citizens attending schools overseas. For complete details visit

ANNUAL - FEBRUARY: IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers Program, Connecticut State University System, 39 Woodland Street, Hartford, CT 06105-2337. Deadline: February every year. A statewide competition for students ages 13-18 during the school year. Win $1,000 for a poem, essay or work of fiction. For complete details visit

ANNUAL - FEBRUARY: National Peace Essay Contest, United States Institute of Peace, 1200 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 457-1700. Deadline: February every year. For students in grades 9 through 12. For complete details visit

ANNUAL - MARCH: Anthem Essay Contest, Dept. W, The Ayn Rand Institute, P.O. Box 57044, Irvine, CA 92619-7044. Deadline: March each year. For 9th and 10th Graders. Essay must be no fewer than 600 and no more than 1,200 words in length. Complete details at

ANNUAL - MARCH: Reading Rainbow's "Young Writers & Illustrators" Contest, c/o GPN, 1800 N. 33rd St., Lincoln, NE 68503. Deadline: March each year. For children in kindergarten through third grade. Complete details at
PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS CONTEST. WEBSITE STATES: "All national entries, and any copyrights therein, become the sole property of Reading Rainbow and GPN/WNED. By entering, entrants agree to . . . grant to Reading Rainbow (WPN/WNED) the right to edit, publish, promote, and otherwise use their entry materials without permission, notice, or compensation."

ANNUAL - MARCH: "What the Gettysburg Address Means to Me" Essay Contest, Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, P.O. Box 3372, Gettysburg, PA 17325,, click on "Essay Contest." All entrants must be 7th and 8th grade students. FEE: NONE. PRIZE: $100 plus trip to Gettysburg, PA. PLEASE NOTE: IF THE SITE IS DOWN, THAT'S NOT UNUSUAL. CHECK BACK LATER. THANKS!

ANNUAL - APRIL: Holocaust Remembrance Essay Contest, information available in September, deadline mid-April every year. A national essay contest for high school students designed to encourage and promote the study of the Holocaust. For complete details visit

ANNUAL - NOVEMBER: Guideposts Young Writers Contest. For all junior and senior high school students. Entrants must write a first-person story about a memorable or moving experience they have had. Stories must be the true personal experience of the writer (up to 1,200 words). For complete rules visit

ANNUAL - DECEMBER: Columbia College Chicago Young Authors Fiction. For all 9th-12th grade students. Two categories: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction (2,500 words max.). For complete details visit


Kimn welcomes questions, comments, and contest news. Click here.

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Updated June 16, 2009

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