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Writing Contests for Young Writers

Updated April 1, 2021

View Publications for Young Writers

Where young writers can find print and online literary magazines to read, places to publish their own works, and legitimate contests. Some publish only young writers, some publish all ages for young readers. For specific submission guidelines, visit the publication's website. Ages can include elementary, teen, or early college. This is an ad-free resource: publications and writing contests listed here have not paid to be included. This guide is maintained by Editor Denise Hill, a teacher who loves to encourage young writers.

Safety Matters! We expect sites listed in this guide to adhere to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

This is a select list of contests from reputable sources. There are many contests that charge fees, but for this resource, I have sought contests which mean to recognize and encourage young writers and do not charge reading or entry fees. Of those listed that do charge a fee, some provide a publication subscription in return as they are trying to gain new readers; that seems fair and the publishers are up front about it.

Please avoid contests that tell you you've won and then want you to purchase expensive copies of the book in which you have been published. These types of "scam" contests publish hundreds, even thousands of entrants and profit greatly from the book sales. These contests take advantage of young writers and inexperienced writers of all ages.

Also see the NCTE Guidelines for Contests, which is helpful for contest organizers who want to reach out to K-12 students and for teachers assessing the legitimacy of contests for their students.

Contest Deadlines: I make every effort to update the contest list monthly and update deadline dates as the contest sponsors update them on their websites. Contest dates may change without anyone notifying me, so users of this guide should check the contest website for the most accurate information. If a previous year's date is noted here, then the contest sponsor may not have updated their website yet, but they will likely be running the contest again. Please check back here or the contest sponsor's site if you are interested in that contest. Covid-19 may also have impacted some annual contests, their ability to update their sites or run their contests at all. I will retain 'outdated' contest sites for one year to allow them time to catch up. Hopefully, by 2022, many of our lives will be back to a more steady status.


Deadline Dates
(Updated regularly as contest organizers update their websites.)

January - February - March - April - May - June - July
August - September - October - November - December

 

The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
Grades 7-12 during the current school year
Deadline: Varies by Region - Enter zip code to find deadline

Manningham Trust Student Poetry Contest

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Grades 6-12
Each participating state conducts its own contest with deadline.
Each partiucipating state sends its top entrants to the national contest.
Click here for a list of participating states.

New York Times

Ages 13-19
Various contests with varying deadlines
Editorial Cartoon Contest, Civil Conversation Challenge, Review Contest, Year in Rap Contest, Vocabulary Video Contest, Editorial Contest, Found Poetry Contest, Summer Reading Contest

Six Word Memoirs

Six Words hold monthly contests for which writers must respond to a prompt in exactly six words.

Stone Soup Flash Contest

Stone Soup holds a monthly flash contest challenge based on a prompt.

TSS Publishing

Short Stories by Children
Ages 6-18
Deadline: Open until Lockdown 3 in the UK ends (Early to mid-March 2021 - check the most recent news for updates.)

Write the World

WtW holds monthly contests based on an idea or genre (poetry, fantasy, sports journalims, ficiton, etc.). For young writers 13-18 years old.

WriteCause

An organization the runs quarterly writing contests with topics centered around different world issues, encouraging charity donations, and prompting teens to reflect on current crises and inspiring solutions.

YES! Magazine

National Student Quarterly Writing Competition
Based on essay from YES! Magazine and writing prompt.
Several age categories Grade 5 - Adult Learner
Biannual deadlines set for each semester


 

January Deadline

The Writing Conference

Theme-based contest for poetry, narrative, and essay.
Grades K-12
Deadline: On hiatus for 2019-2020 school year.

National Youth Foundation

Amazing Women Writing Contest
Theme: Local Heroines
Grades K-8
Deadline: January 8, 2021

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Sponsored by Fidelity Investments
Grades 9-12
Deadline: January 15, 2021 postmark

Ringling College of Art and Design

High School Creative Writing Contest
High School Age Writers
Deadline: January 15, 2021

Columbia College Chicago

Young Authors Writing Competition
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry
High School Age Writers
Deadline: January 31, 2021

The Telling Room

Themed Poetry and Fiction
Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-18
For Maine Residents only
Deadline: January 31, 2021

 

February Deadline

Arizona Mystery Writers

Mary Ann Hutchison Memorial Story Contest for Youths
Ages 9-16
Deadline: February 1, 2021

Bluefire 1000-word Story Contest

Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation
Grades 6-12
Deadline: February 1, 2021

Engineer Girl Writing Contest

Fiction in which the main character is a female who uses engineering skills to solve a problem.
Grades 3-12
Deadline: February 1, 2021

Gannon University

High School Poetry Contest
Grades 9-12
Deadline: February 1, 2021

Holocaust Art and Writing Contest

Chapman University
Grades Middle and High School
Deadline: Postmark February 1, 2021 or by February 3, 2021 for digital submissions

North Carolina Poetry Society

Student Poetry Contest
Grades 3-College Undergraduate
North Carolina Residents Only
Deadline: February 1, 2021

West Chester University

Several contests for undergraduate college/university.
Deadline: February 1, 2021

NASA Scientist for a Day Essay Contest

Grades 5-12
Deadline: February 12, 2021

NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing

For Juniors in the current academic school year
Students must be nominated by their school's English Department
Deadline: February 15, 2021

NCTE Promising Young Writers Program

For 8th grade students in the current academic year
Students must be nominated by a school committee or department
Deadline: February 15, 2021

Young Writers of Canada

Young Writers Poetry Contest
Ages 5-18
French & English entries accepted
Deadline: February 15, 2021

Ice Lolly Review Campaign Contest

Theme: Social Issues of Importance to Youth
Ages 12-18
Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry
Deadline: February 28, 2021

The Trust for Sustainable Living

The Sustainability Challenge
International Schools Essay Competition and Debate
Ages Primary and Secondary School Categories
Deadline: February 28, 2021
Teachers must register class of students.
Registration opens in September.

 

March Deadline

Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest

Grades 3-12
Deadline: March 1, 2021

Hunger Mountain

International Young Writers Prize
Open to High School writers worldwide
Dealdine: March 1, 2021

Hunger Mountain

Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children's Writing
Young Adult (YA); Middle Grade (MG); Picture Book or Writing for Young Children
Deadline: March 1, 2021

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society

University of Central Florida
Middle & High School Writing Contest
Story, Poem, Essay
Deadline: March 1, 2020 [Requested update 3/30]

Outdoor Writers Association of America

Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards
Grades 6-8 or 9-12
For outdoor-oriented works.
Deadline: March 1, 2021

Writing for Peace

Dove Tales: A Writing for Peace Literary Journal of the Arts
Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction that explores social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes 
Ages 13-19
Deadline: March 1, 2021

American Society of Human Genetics

DNA Day Essay Contest
Grades 9-12
Deadline: March 3, 2021

Austin Poets Di-Verse-City Anthology

Adult and Youth Categories
Deadline: March 5, 2021

Columbus State University

The Carson McCullars Literary Award
Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Expository Essay, Playwriting, Screenwriting
High School Age Category
Deadline: March 5, 2021

It's All Write! Teen Writing Contest

Ann Arbor District Library
Flash Fiction and Short Story Grades 6-12
Deadline: March 7, 2021

Davidson Fellows Scholarship

Davidson Institute, Reno, NV
Ages 18 and under as application date
For completion of a significant work in STEM or Humanities categories
Deadline: March 10, 2021

VSA Playwright Discovery Competition

Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-18
Ten-minute play, screenplay, or music theater exploring the disability experience
Written by young writers with disabilities and colllaborative groups that include students with disabilities
Deadline: March 15, 2021

Cancer Unwrapped Teen Essay Writing Contest

Cancer Pathways
Grades: 9-12
Deadline: March 14, 2021

The Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Festival Competition

Original Plays or Musicals on any subject
Ages 9-19
Deadline: March 15, 2021

The Sucarnochee Review Poetry Contest

University of West Alabama
Undergraduates Only
Deadline: March 20, 2020 [Requested update 3/30.]

The Haiku Society of America

Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition
Grades 7-12
Deadline: March 22, 2021

ukiaHaiku Festival

Haiku Contest
All Ages
No Fee (except for Adult Contemporary Haiku)
Deadline: On hiatus for 2020.
The website includes helpful guidelines for writing haiku.

The Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge

Ages 14-18 or 19-29
Deadline: On hiatus for the 2019-2020 school year.

The Caterpillar

Best Poem for Children Contest
This contest is actually for adults writing for readers ages 7-11(ish).
Deadline: March 31, 2021

Princeton University

Lewis Arts Center
Ten-Minute Play Contest
Grades 11and 12 in the current school year
Deadline: March 31, 2021

Sarah Mook Poetry Prize

Grades K-12
Deadline: March 31, 2021

Save the Earth Poetry Prize

The Weeden Foundation
American High School Students
Grades 11 and 12
Deadline: February 1 - March 31 *On sabbatical for 2019 to publish an anthology of past submissions.

Young Writers of Canada

Annual Young Writers Creative Writing Contest
Ages 5-18
Deadline: March 31, 2022 (That date is correct. It is for NEXT year.) 

 

April Deadline

United States Institute for Peace

High School Essay Contest
Deadline: April 5, 2021

Radiant Peace Education Awards

Essay, Art, Video, Projects
Grades 1-12
Deadline: Postmark April 7, 2021

fingers comma toes

National Flash Fiction Day Youth Competition
All ages
Deadline: April 15, 2021

We the Students Essay Contest

Bill of Rights Institute
Ages 14-19
Deadline: April 15, 2021

The Legacy Project

"Listen to a Life" Writing Contest
Ages 8-18
Deadline: April 16, 2021

Skipping Stones Asian Celebration Haiku Contest

Ages 7-18
Deadline: April 19, 2021

The Adroit Journal

Prizes for Poetry and Prose
Open to Secondary and Undergraduate Students
Fee Waiver Request Form available
Deadline: April 30, 2021

The Claudia Ann Seaman Poetry Award

The Community Foundation of Dutchess County and Polyphony Lit
Grades 9-12
Deadline: Received by April 30, 2021

Dear Poet Project

Grades 5-12
Letters written in response to poets reading poems
Select letters will be published online; Select letters will receive a response
Deadline: April 30, 2021

Humane Education Network

A Voice for Animals
Essay Contest for 14-15 and 16-18 year olds
Video Action Project for 16-18 year olds
Essay with Photos for 16-18 year olds
Deadeline: April 30, 2021

Lake Superior State University Short Story Prize

Genre: Historical Fiction
Open to high school age writers
Deadline: On hiatus for the 2019-2020 school year

Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center

Holocaust Writing, Art and Film Contest
Open to grades 5-12 in WA, OR, ID, AK
Deadline: April 30, 2021

 

May Deadline

The Junebug Journal

Prose, Poetry, Visual Art, Photography, Culinary Arts, Performing Arts, Videography
High School Artists Ages 13-19
Deadline: May 1, 2021

New Voices One-Act Competition for Young Playwrights

YouthPLAYS
Non-musical, one-act play suitable for HS audience
Written by Playwrights 19 years and under
Deadline: May 1, 2021

World Historian Student Essay Competition

World History Association
Grades K-12
Deadline: May 1, 2021

new iconToyin Fálọlá Prize

Short Story Theme: Africanfuturism
Ages 15-35
Entrants must be African
Deadline: May 15, 2021

William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition

Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society
Category for Short Story by a High School Student
Deadline: May 15, 2020 Exended to November 1, 2020

new iconLitro Lab Podcast Competition

Ages 18-25
Deadline: May 31, 2021

 

June Deadline

California Young Playwrights Contest

Open to residents of California only.
Ages Under 19 as of June 1
Deadline: June 1, 2021

Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest

Open to students studying in Cananda and Canadian students studying abroad.
High School / Undergraduate / Graduate Categories
Topic changes each year
Deadline: June 1, 2021

Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Ages High School / College / Graduate School
Topic changes each year
Deadline: June 1, 2021

new iconPoetry Screen

Arts Council England
Combine poetry and film
Ages 25 and under; teams welcome
Deadline: June 1, 2021

Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize

State University of New York
Only undergraduates enrolled full-time in American and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year are eligible
Deadline: June 1, 2021

US Forest Service

"Get to Know Your Wild Neighbors"
Art, Writing, Photography, Videography, Music
Ages 11-18
Deadline: June 1, 2021

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest

Art, Poetry, Prose, Film, Music, Multimedia, Performing Arts, Spoken Word
Ages 11-18
Deadline: June 14, 2021

Goi Peace Foundation International Essay Contest

Theme: Kindness
Ages 25 and under
Deadline: June 15, 2021

Skipping Stones Youth Honors Award

Promoting Multicultural Awareness, International Understanding and Nature Appreciation
Original Writing and Art
Ages 7-17
Deadline: June 25, 2021

 

July Deadline

Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award

Ages: Adult; Youth (13-18); Youth (12 and under)
No fee for 12 and under.
Deadline: Postmark July 1, 2021

The Geek Partnership Society

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural and Alternate History Fiction
Poetry, Fiction, Graphic Novel
Various age categories (K-Adult)
Deadline: July 1, 2021

NCTE Excellence in Student Literary Magazines

Open to all accredited middle and secondary schools (US, CA, VI, US schools abroad)
Deadline: Entries accepted May 1 - July 1, 2021

new iconHominum Journal Young Writers Contest

Prose and Poetry
Ages 13-22
Deadline: July 11, 2021

Student Book Scholars

National Youth Foundation
Theme: Anti-Bullying
Grades K-8
Deadline: July 15, 2021

"I Matter" Poetry Contest

National Youth Foundation
Topic: "Black Lives Matter"
Grades: K-12
Deadline: July 23, 2021

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

The Poetry Society
Ages 11-17
Deadline: July 31, 2021

The Lincoln Forum

Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay Contest
Specific topic posted on the website.
For full-time college/university students.
Deadline: Postmark July 31, 2021

Young Writers of Canada

Annual Open All Ages Poetry Contest
Deadline: July 31, 2021

 

August Deadline

Smarty Pants Magazine

Create-a-Sea-Creature Art Contest
Ages 5-12
Open to US and Canada residents only.
Deadline: August 31, 2020

Stone Soup Book Contest

Fiction, Memoir, Poetry Manuscript
Ages Under 14
Deadline: August 16, 2021
There is a $15 entry fee for this contest; waivers by request for financial hardship.

William Faulkner Literary Competition

Student Short Story Category
Deadline: August 31, 2021

 

September Deadline

Epiphany Breakout 8 Writers Prize

Prose, Poetry Manuscripts
Ages College Undergraduate or Graduate
Deadline: September 15, 2020 [Will update date Summer 21.]

 

October Deadline

Gigantic Sequins: Teen Sequins

Poetry
Ages 14-18 (before June 2021)
Deadline: October 1, 2021

Transitions Abroad Travel Contest

Student Writing Contest
Currently enrolled undergrad and grad students & recent grads.
Deadline: On hiatus until the pandemic allows more safe/open travel.

Embracing Our Differences

Art Exhibit and Quote Contest
For all ages
Deadline: October 6, 2021

National YoungArts Foundation

Ages 15-18
Various Arts Categories
Receive up to $10k + educational support
Applications Open June 1 - October 8, 2020

American Geosciences Institute

Earth Science Week Essay Contest
Theme: "Finding 'Art' in Earth"
Grades 6-9
Deadline: October 16, 2020

VFW Voice of Democracy

Audio Essay Competition
Grades 9-12
Deadline: October 31, 2021

Hollins University

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
For High School Sophomore and Junior Girls
Deadline: October 31, 2020

 

November Deadline

Bennington College

Young Writers Competition
Grades 10-12
Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction
Deadline: November 1, 2021

Ethical ELA

Rhyme and Rhythm: An Anthology of High School Sports Poems
Edited by Dr. Sarah J. Donovan
Written for readers ages 12-18
Form: Topical, progressive, thematic, and very entertaining in fiction, speculative fiction, and nonfiction/memoir; any form (haiku, sijo, sonnet, free verse, sestina, etc.); lyric or narrative.
Deadline: November 1, 2020

Lions International

Essay Contest: "We Are All Connected"
Ages 11, 12, 13 years old on November 15, 2021
Open to students who are considered visually impaired according to their national guidelines.

Rachel Carson Sense of the Wild Contest

Poetry and Prose w/ or w/o Photograph
Intergenerational Team of two or more only
Deadline: November 16, 2021

Rattle Young Poets Anthology

Open Call for Submissions
Ages 15 or younger
Deadline: November 15, 2021

Princeton University

Leonard Milberg '53 Secondary School Poetry Prize
Any student who is in the eleventh grade in the academic year is eligible.
Deadline: November 27, 2020

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

The Kenyon Review
High School Sophomores and Juniors
Award: First place: Full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop and publication. Second and third place: Publication.
Deadline: November 1 - 30, 2021

NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program

National Novel Writing Month
November 1 - 30, 2021

International Bipolar Foundation

High School Essay Contest
Ages 13-29
Deadline: November 30, 2019
New prompt will be announced September 2020.

 

December Deadline

Kay Snow Student Writing Contest

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry
Grades 1-12 and College
Deadline: December 31, 2020

Kay Snow YA Writing Contest

Roland Smith Award for YA and Middle Grade Fiction
Written by adults for young adult or middle grade readers.
Deadline: December 31, 2020

Piedmont Institute of Communication, Art and Music

Emerging Writers Contets
High School and Community College Students
All styles, forms, genre under 5000 words
Deadline: December 1, 2019

Saint Mary's College

River of Words Poetry and Art Contest
Grades K-12 (Ages 5-19)
Deadline: December 1, 2021

Smith College

The Poetry Center High School Prize
An annual prize for sophomore & junior girls in New England
Deadline: September 1 - December 1, 2020

Barbara Pym Society

Ellen J. Miller Memorial Short Story Contest
Entries must prominently feature one or more characters from Barbara Pym’s published novels.
Deadline: December 2, 2019

Radiant Peace Education Awards

Essay, Art
Grades 1-8
Deadline: December 4, 2019
Note: This contest is run twice each year. See entry under April.

Interlochen Arts Academy

Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Screenplays, Drama, Hybrid Genre
Grades 8-11
Deadline: December 6, 2020 February 1, 2021

The Trust for Sustainable Living

International Schools Essay Competition and Debate
Ages Primary and Secondary School Categories
Deadline: December 23, 2021
Teachers must register class of students.
Registration opens in September.

Rider University

Annual High School Writing Contest
Essay, Fiction, Poetry
Deadline: December 20, 2019

Poetry Society of America

Louise Lois / Emily R. Bourne Student Award
Teacher/Administrator Nominated unpublished poem by 9-12 grade student.
Deadline: Postmark October 1-December 23, 2019

The National WWII Museum Essay Contest

Topic changes each year
Middle School and High School Students
Deadline: December 27, 2019

Auroras & Blossoms

PoArtMo Anthology
Poetry, Prose, Artwork, Mixed Genre
Ages 13-16
Deadline: December 31, 2021

The Fire Scholarship Contest

Essay: Prompt using video examples on topic of Free Speech
Grades High School Juniors & Seniors
Deadline: December 31, 2020

The Fitzgerald Museum

Fiction, Poetry, Multi-Genre
High School and College Students
Deadline: September 1 - December 31, 2020

The Lyric Magazine

Poetry Contest
Undergraduate Students – USA and Canada
Deadline: Postmark December 31, 2021

The Society of Classical Poets

Poetry Competition
Ages 13-19
Deadline: December 31, 2020

VOYA

Poetry Competition
Ages 12-18
Must be submitted by librarians, teachers, and other professionals working with youth.
Deadline: December 31, 2019

 

Looking for a list of publications that publish young writers? Check out our guide here.

 


 

The NewPages Young Writers Guide to Contests is a free and ad-free resource for anyone looking for writing contests for teens, writing contests for high school students, scholastic writing contests, writing contests for middle school students, writing contests for kids, high school writing contests, writing contests for elementary students, creative writing contests for high school students, poetry contests for high school students.

 

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