Essay Contest Elementary Students

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.

Betty Award
ages: 8 – 12
Details: Check the website for deadlines for their spring and fall writing contests. Cash prizes. $15 fee.

Brock Eastman
ages:  K – 6 grade
Details: Monthly winners in ongoing writing contest. Check the website for details.

Amazing Kids!
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.

Write the World
ages: not stated
Details: This is a online writing community for kids. Contests are posted from time to time here.

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.

Writing Times 
ages: 5 – 12
This online literary magazine holds writing and drawing competitions throughout the year about a specific theme.

Dandelion Press
ages: all
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.

Highlights 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: 9 – 14
Details: Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction welcome in this literary magazine. Guidelines for submissions here.

Stone Soup
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.

Skipping Stones
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.

The Caterpillar
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.

Amazing Kids! Magazine
ages: 5 to 18
Details: A magazine written by kids and teens looking for stories, articles, adventures, and more. Submission guidelines here.

ages: 13+
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.

Cicada Magazine
ages: 14+
Details: This magazine loves SF/fantasy and historical fiction as well as narrative nonfiction about teen topics.

Teen Ink
ages: 13+
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.



Download my "can't put 'em down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.

Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!

Way to go! I can't wait to share with you books that your kids will love. An email to confirm is heading to your in box right now.

by Melissa Taylor14 CommentsFiled Under: Education, Elementary, Imagination Soup, Writing, Writing FunTagged With: contests, Writing

Have you ever taken four minutes to listen to this video from Andrew, where he gives a brief description of IEW’s methodology and the results of a few years of using this method? Right around 2:40 he says, “Once they gain the basic skills of Structure and Style, their creativity explodes! They’re out winning essay contests, winning story contests, getting published,” and celebrating other accomplishments. To that end, here are some opportunities for your students where they can submit their stories, articles, and essays, including a few sponsored by IEW.

Writing Contests

ASHG's 13th Annual DNA Day Essay Contest: The American Society of Human Genetics invites students grades 9-12 worldwide to participate in the 13th Annual DNA Day Essay Contest, asking students to examine, question, and reflect on important concepts in genetics in commemoration of the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953. Deadline: March 9, 2018

Youth Plays: Submit a play! We welcome submissions of challenging, entertaining plays and musicals that are appropriate for teen and younger actors and/or audiences. Deadline: April 9, 2018

Signet Essay Contest is proud to host their twenty-second annual Student Scholarship Essay Contest, in which five high school juniors or seniors can each win a $1,000 scholarship award to be used toward their higher education.  This year, pick one of 5 topics from the book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Deadline: April 21, 2018

HSLDA Poetry Contest: Time to get out your quills and ink-pots! Err, not really. But if you have an affinity for cryptically or literally expressing yourself through rhymes and general writing, or if you enjoy a creative challenge, this contest is for you! Students ages 7-19 are invited to participate. Prizes include cash awards! Deadline: May 1, 2018

Blue Mountain Arts announces their 32nd biannual poetry card contest! We suggest that you write about real emotions and feelings and that you have some special person or occasion in mind as you write. Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, although we find that non-rhyming poetry reads better. Prizes include cash awads! Deadline: June 30, 2018

Pockets: Have you ever wanted to be published in a magazine? Here is your chance! Pockets invites you to write for them! There is no set theme, but Pockets' primary interest is in stories that can help children deal with real-life situations. Entries are received beginning March 15 and must be postmarked no later than August 15. Prizes include cash awards and publication in magazine. The winner will be announced November 1.

The Critical Pass: Ages 13 to 18 year olds are invited to enter the Critical Junior Poet's Award contest which provides a basis for recognition and encouragement of outstanding student interest and achievement in the art of poetry. Prizes include cash awards! Deadline: October 1, 2018

Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. This year's theme is American History: Our Hope for the Future. Prizes include cash awards. Deadline: October 31, 2018

Fleet Reserve Association sponsors an annual essay contest to promote the spirit of Americanism and patriotism among our country’s youth. Students, grades 7 through 12 are invited to submit a 350-word essay through an FRA member or local FRA branch. Prizes include cash awards. Deadline: December 1, 2018

More to be announced as we receive updates. If you happen to know of a writing contest, please let us know so we can include it on this page.

Please note: While IEW believes these contests to be legitimate, writing contest scams do exist, and it's wise to check into a contest carefully before entering, especially if there is a fee to enter.

Opportunities to Be Published

Magnum Opus Magazine:Homeschooled students (K–12), submit your compositions for a chance to be published in our monthly eNewsletter or annual print magazine.

Amazing Kids! Magazine: Kids from ages 5–18, submit fictional stories, non-fiction articles, poems, jokes, and more.

Caterpillar Magazine: Submit poems and short stories to this Irish magazine.

Creative Kids Magazine: Students ages 8–16 can submit original songs, stories, editorials, poetry, and plays.

Highlights Magazine: Submit poems, jokes, riddles, stories, book reviews, letters, and more.

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