Writing Competitions for Kids

Instructor: Melinda Santos
Children can gain valuable practice as well as confidence in their writing skills by participating in any of the numerous writing competitions available. Check out the competitions below, then use the noted resources to help your student or child prepare.

Writing Competitions for Kids

Writing contests provide a great opportunity for young kids to practice writing for an audience and receive recognition for their talents. Participating in these contests also allows children to experience the nature of competitive writing with deadlines, topic selection and word count parameters. Below is a list of writing competitions geared toward young to middle school aged children and the corresponding guidelines for each.

KidPub Writing Contest - Any Age

This contest is open to members of the KidPub Author's Club with competitions occurring regularly throughout the year. Writing prompts are provided along with specifications for the format, such as poetry, essays or a combination of both. KidPub staff members judge the competition and select the winner of a $50 Amazon gift card. Runner-ups will also be selected from two age groups: 11-years-old and under and 12 and up. Each runner-up will be awarded with a $25 Amazon gift card.

Poetic Power Poetry & Essay Contests - Grades K-12 for Poetry, Grades 4-12 for Essay

Submissions for both contests can be provided by either a teacher on behalf of a student or by students themselves. The top 45% in each category, as selected by the judges, are offered publication. Ten winners are selected from each grade division who, in addition to publication, receive a $25 prize and a complementary anthology of published submissions. Teachers who provided submissions from students in the top ten receive free classroom supplies. Topics for either competition are self-selected.

PBS KIDS Writers Contest - Grades K-3

Individual PBS stations which participate in the PBS KIDS Writers Contest accept individually authored and illustrated stories for winter and spring contests. Specific dates for each contest and deadlines are provided by local stations. Submissions are judged by renowned PBS producers and show creators. Every participant receives a Certificate of Achievement and winners will also receive prizes.

Time for Kids Kid Reporter Contest - Ages 13 and Under

Ten winners are selected by the magazine's editors to represent and write for Time for Kids magazine for the specified school year. The contest begins in March with the final winners selected in August. Participants are required to fill out an entry form and submit two writing pieces - a 50 word essay describing why they would be a good reporter for the magazine and a newsworthy article that illustrates their writing and reporting skills. The news piece can include graphics and photos and should include quotes from interviewees and a headline. Finalists must submit an additional assignment and provide video clips, as well as complete a phone interview.

Letters About Literature - Grades 4-12

This competition, spearheaded by the Library of Congress, encourages children to both read and write. Instead of the typical essay format, this contest requires students write a letter to the author, whether alive or dead, of a book, play, poem or speech detailing how it had a profound effect on them. Winners on the national and state level are announced on the Library of Congress website. National winners in each competition level (grades 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12) are awarded $1000 while National Honor Winners each receive $200.

Engineer Girl - Grades 3-12

Open to both girls and boys in three grade level categories (grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12), this essay contest asks students to think about new technologies in engineering and the areas in engineering these technologies can improve. Essays are judged by engineering professionals with first-place winners receiving $500, second-place $250 and third-place $100. Winners at all three levels will be published on the Engineer Girl website.

Non-Competitive Opportunities for Publication

In addition to writing contests that offer rewards or prizes, students also have the opportunity to submit original essays and stories to kid-centric magazines for the chance to see their work published. Not every piece submitted will be published, and each magazine has specific word-count restrictions. However, brainstorming ideas and writing stories for these familiar publications provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their writing skills with the potential reward of seeing their writing in print. The following magazines accept writing submissions from children in the age range listed:

  • Stone Soup Magazine: Ages 13 and under
  • Creative Kids Magazine: Ages 8-16
  • Highlights for Kids: All ages welcome

Writing Resources for Kids

Students can enhance their writing abilities before participating in these contests, or just for fun, by using the engaging lessons below to review the following topics:

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