Children’s Book Writing Contests

Children’s Book Writing Contests for unpublished and published authors are a fun way to practice your craft, come up with ideas, test out your opening pages, and even win awards or credentials that might help lead to publication.

In this article I will explore the numerous online children’s book writing contests that take place annually. Some contests are for full book projects, while others are short writing exercises or partial manuscript submissions. Some award cash and other prizes, and others only come with bragging rights. In this article, writing contests that require an entry fee are * below.

Many of these contests will offer prizes such at free critiques with agents, editors or published children’s book authors. Additionally, contests like #PBParty give winners a chance to connect with acquiring agents and editors.

I hope you will find some fun contests to participate in on this list. To all of you reading and participating, best of luck and happy writing!

SCBWI Children’s Book Writing Contests

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) offers numerous contests, grants and scholarships each year. I have highlighted a couple of their contests in this article. You can find a full list here.

Work-in-Progress Award

The SCBWI Work-In-Progress (WIP) Award assists children’s book writers and illustrators in the publication of a specific project currently not under contract. The works submitted by winners will be made available on a secure webpage and presented to a hand-selected group of editors for their consideration. Although this is not a guarantee of publication, the opportunity to have your work presented to acquiring editors, along with an SCBWI endorsement, is a unique opportunity. The categories are:

  • Picture Book Text
  • Chapter Books/Early Readers
  • Middle Grade
  • Young Adult Fiction
  • Nonfiction (Anna Cross Giblin Nonfiction Award)
  • Underrepresented Fiction or Nonfiction

Ann Whitford Paul Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award

The Ann Whitford Paul Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award is an annual award given to the Most Promising Picture Book manuscript. The two categories are Fiction and Nonfiction and a winner is selected for each. The two winners will each receive a $1000 grant to encourage the development of an excellent picture book manuscript.

Online Small Writing Contests

Suzanna Hill’s Writing Contests

Prizes for all of Suzanna Hill’s writing contests typically include bragging rights, agent, editor or author critique opportunities, and signed books by other picture book authors.

1 – Halloweensie – The Halloweensie Contest takes place the last week in October. Participants write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children 12 and under using three specific words. Each year, new words are selected. Additionally, it is a fun way to connect with other aspiring children’s book writers.

2 – Valentiny – During the Valentiny Contest writers submit a Valentines’ story for children 12 and under with 214-words or less (because Valenine’s Day is on 2/14). Additionally, the stories must also feature a character with a specified emotion and each year, a new emotion is selected. Some past featured emotions have been hopeful, guilty and curious.

3 – Holiday Contest – For the Holiday Contest, participants write a holiday story for children (age 12 and under) with a maximum 300-400 words, based on the supplied prompt, which changes from year to year.

Vivian Kirkfield’s Writing contest

#50PreciousWords asks participants to write a 50-word or less children’s story, appropriate for children 12 and under. Submissions can be written in prose, rhyme, or free verse. They can also be silly or serious – whatever the author chooses. But all entries must be a complete story. This means the story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Additionally, #50PreciousWords is a literacy initiative and participants are asked to purchase a children’s book from a local indie bookstore. This purchase is NOT a requirement. The books are donated to local schools in need.

Twitter Children’s Book Writing Contests

#PBParty – The annual PBParty contest is for unagented writers and author/illustrators with finished and polished picture book manuscripts. Participants submit an entry (query and first 60 – 70 words of their manuscript) and judges pick a wide variety of genres for acquiring agents and editors to read and hopefully request. The contest takes place annually in March. In addition to being a great way to connect with agents or editors, #PBParty is also a multi-day event.

Other Twitter Events

#PBPitch – During PBPitch unagented authors post picture book pitches on twitter. In addition to being a fun contest, this is also a great way to practice writing pitches and query letters. If a post gets a ‘like’ from an agent or editor the author may submit their work, usually above the slush pile. Keep in mind, submission instructions are different for every participating agent or editor. Instructions are usually found on the agent/editor twitter feeds. #PBPitch takes place in February, June, and October.

Institute of Children’s Literature Fractured Fairytale Contest*

The Institute of Children’s LIterature runs a Fractured Fairytale contest every year. Participants write a full fractured fairy tale aimed at 8-10-year-olds with a beginning, middle, and end. A good fractured fairy tale makes use of a traditional fairy tale, yet restructures and reimagines it by delivering a more modern moral message. Entries must be 900 words or less. Submissions must be previously unpublished. Additionally, they cannot be under contract. There is a $19 entry fee.

Children’s Book Writing Contests are a fantastic way to be creative and hone your craft. Additionally, they are also a fun way to connect with other aspiring children’s book writers. I hope you will give it a try. Good luck!

Want to talk more about contests and writing opportunities? Or, do you have a project you would like to discuss? Contact me below to inquire about a consultation. Happy writing!