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2023 Kids' Choice KidLit Writing Contest Rules and Info

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Happy New Year, friends! I hope all of your dreams come true this year and that you feel the excitement of new possibilities and new opportunities. I've got some lofty goals, major dreams, and exciting events coming for this year. Including my DEBUT picture book, THE MONSTER ABOVE THE BED, releasing from Clarion/Harper Collins in November 2023.

I can't wait to drop the cover, share more details with you, and invite you to meet Blossom.

So grateful to each of you for following my journey.

Okay... enough self promo, right? Let's get to the reason you're all here today.


First, I want to THANK all of the grownups who have registered their kiddos to judge the 2nd annual Kids' Choice Kidlit Writing Contest! We currently have just over 150 judges!! WOO HOO! That is AMAZING. Last year, we had about 120, so we are already growing! Based on last year's numbers, I am hoping for about 20 more PB judges. If you know any kids who would be interested, I would SO appreciate you sending their grownups the info. You can read all about the program HERE and register kid judges HERE. Note that I can also take full classrooms who would like to participate. I am excited to say that I already have 4 classrooms registered so far this year, including the one I worked with last year!! It's a great opportunity for classes to discuss what they like about a story, what works, and what could be improved. I would love to work with even more classes!

And the last thing before jumping into the rules for this year...

Last year, I threw together thank-you gifts for the kid judges very last minute. This year, I want to be prepared! Last year, I ran some webinars to raise funds and it worked out well, but again, added a little to the stress level. This year, I would REALLY like to send each of the kiddos a book to thank them for their work. And trust me, it's a LOT of work for these kids and I really want them to feel valued and appreciated for their service.

For everyone who applies this year, I'm asking that you consider donating what you can to this effort. (Note that this is NOT a requirement for entry as I want this contest accessible to all, but it is encouraged so that we can support these kiddos who are donating their time and energies)

I wrestled for a LONG time with how to best go about this. I considered partnering with my local indie and letting people buy books directly from them for the kids. But then I realized that would mean that kids would receive books that they maybe already have. And that would be a real bummer, in my honest opinion. So I am asking that you send me money directly and to trust me that I will use 100% of the funds donated to send books to these kid judges. (I know this can be stressful in the internet age, but truly, I will do this).

You can either send the money via Venmo (@Kailei-Pew) or make an "order" through my website. Please feel free to donate what you can, no amount is too small.

When considering a donation, do consider that the cost of a book, plus tax and shipping will come out to about $23 (hoping to support local indies in this endeavor).

Note, if donating through my website, I have to set a specific price for the "product," so I requested the $23 there. Through Venmo, you can send any amount.

After the contest is over, kids will be able to request whatever book they like! I will then mail it to those within the United States, and send gift cards/paypal credit to those outside of the US. If I have more funds than I need for books alone, I will send them bookmarks and other swag along with it. Again, I will use 100% of the funds for these kiddos.

Thank you all SO much for considering a donation. It's truly the least we can do for these awesome kid judges.

And now...

Announcing the RULES, INFO, and IMPORTANT DATES for the 2nd Annual #KidsChoiceKidLitWritingContest.

*Please take note: I will be doing a SEPARATE post this year announcing the prizes and donors. Last year, this post got way too long, so I am doing 2 different posts this year. Read all of the rules below, then come back Tuesday, January 10th, to see the amazing prizes and incredible donors who are making this contest possible.

The Basics:

The Kids' Choice KidLit Writing Contest is a writing contest like no other. PB, MG, and YA authors will submit entries through a Google Form from January 26th through January 28th.

I am also encouraging entrants to post all or some of their entry in the comments section on the contest post that will go live on the 26th. Building community is what I love 2nd most about this contest. (First being working with the awesome kid judges). AND, I fixed my website, so you won't get a million notifications about comments. HOORAY!

As much as I love the community, it was way too much work to copy and paste every single comment into a google form for our kid judges, so having entries go directly into the form will make my life soooo much easier. Note that ONLY entries submitted through the Google Form will be judged. Comments will be exclusively for showcasing your work to the world and fostering connection.

Then, (with the express permission of their parents/guardians), KIDS will judge the entries in a series of rounds until we arrive at the finalists. We don't want any kid to have to read hundreds of entries, so each kid will read a set of approximately 10 entries in the first round of judging. All entries will be read and voted on by multiple kids the first round (exact number of readers in round one will depend on how many total entries we get, but it will be enough to have a consensus).

New this year, there will be a second round of voting based on the top votes from round 1 to ensure that we give everyone an equal shot at being seen by as many kid judges as possible.

Then based on the votes from the middle round, I will send ALL the kid judges the (approximately) 10 finalists in their chosen category (PB, MG, and YA) for final voting (again, the exact number of finalists will depend on the number of entries we receive).

All of the kid judges will then read and vote on the finalists from their specified category.

We have about 150 total kid judges currently signed up to read your work, so this will be very exciting! Since we do have kid judges and don't want to overwhelm them, we will give them plenty of time to read and judge. Winners will be announced sometime in March, hopefully around the 20th. (Rules continue below)



PLEASE FOLLOW THESE RULES! Know them. They are your friends (and mine). Follow them, please. I know some of them seem tedious, but please remember that this is a lot for one person to organize and know that these rules are in place to make life just slightly easier for me.

  1. Write a 200-word or less story for PB (approximately ages 3-8), MG (approximately ages 8-12), or YA readers (approximately ages 13-18). This might be a scene more than a complete story for the older readers, but try to have a sense of beginning, middle, and end. The story can be humorous, heartfelt, gut-wrenching, quirky, meta, lyrical, STEM, nonfiction, etc. Pretty much anything that YOU think kids will love.

  2. Title does not count towards word count

  3. Contest is open to all authors... agented, pre-agented, published, not published, veteran, or brand new. However, if there are any kid writers who want to enter, please let them know that I hope to host a "Kids Write KidLit" Contest just for them later this year (if my health cooperates).

  4. Art notes ARE allowed for PB entries (because I love me a good joke landed with an art note). BUT, keep in mind that your work will be read by kid judges. I will train them on how to read an art note, but make sure your notes are understandable... also, art notes DO count towards your final word count, so make sure you do not go over!!! There is no need to indicate "art note." Simply put your art notes in brackets. e.g.: Everything ran smoothly, until... [machine explodes].

  5. Come to my website between January 26th and January 28th to find the link to the Google Form entry page as well as to (optionally) post your story in the comments section of the Contest Page.

  6. While it's not required, I hope you will subscribe to my blog in the box at the bottom of this page to make sure you don't miss the Contest Page to enter on. I will email out a link when the Contest Page opens and blog subscribers will be the first to get that.

  7. Only ONE entry per person. You must choose between the categories. Last year, we had a few authors enter once in the PB category, once in the MG category, and once in the YA and they were sadly disqualified. ONE entry total. Choose wisely.

  8. You may post your entry to your own personal blog, but you must ALSO enter through the Google Form linked on my website You may include a link to your blogs/websites in the comments section of the contest page. .

  9. Submission Window will open Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 12:01 am Mountain Time. The deadline for posting your entry is Saturday, January 28, 2023 at 11:59 PM Mountain Time. I know this window is much shorter than last year, but again, I have to make just a few things a little easier on myself.

  10. If you have any problems with the Google Form, please fill out the contact form on my website and I will get back to you ASAP and help get entry in.

  11. OPTIONAL BUT ENCOURAGED: Post your entry (or a portion of your entry) in the comments section on the contest page. I hope that the Google Form will make things a little smoother without taking away the fun community aspect of this event, so I really hope you will consider doing this! (***NOTE: If you have a PB entry that you are planning to query/submit as is, you should ONLY post about 50-60 words as a sample in the contest post. Make sure to post the ENTIRE ENTRY in the Google form, knowing that it will be kept private).

  12. Have fun reading other entries and commenting on other's work while you wait to hear the results of the contest. It's a confidence boost to hear from other writers that they like your stuff.

  13. Be patient while the kids read your work. I don't want this to be a burden on any of our kid judges, so we are giving them ample time to read and make their choices.

  14. Winners will be announced around March 20th, depending on the judges. First place winners will choose from the list of prizes to be announced next week. Second place will choose from the remaining prizes, and so on until all prizes are claimed. Book prizes are available to U.S. authors only for shipping reasons, but all other prizes are available to all. Prizes can be gifted if desired.

  15. If you would like to include links to your social media handles on the contest page, feel free to do so. You never know who might stumble on your work here and what connections you might make!

  16. Follow all guidelines within the Google Form. The entry page is extremely clear and straight forward if you read carefully.

  17. If your child is judging, you may NOT enter in the same category that they will be reading. However, you may enter in a different category (i.e., if they are judging PB, you may only enter in the MG or YA categories, if they are judging MG, you may only enter in the PB or YA categories, and if they are judging YA, you may only enter in the PB or MG categories).

  18. You may NOT enter the exact same entry that you entered in last year's Kids' Choice Contest.

  19. You may NOT enter a piece that has been previously published (including self published) or that is currently under contract for future publication.

  20. You MAY enter a piece that is currently being queried or submitted, so long as it is NOT currently under contract or previously published, including self published.

I know this is all very specific, but please remember that I am coordinating this by myself with 150+ kid judges. I will be creating groups of judges, sending out hundreds of emails with the stories for each group, receiving their decisions, putting together the list of finalists based on their votes, and collecting the kids' final votes. So please, please, please help me out by following the above guidelines. Failure to do so will disqualify you.

Finally, I'll leave you with some interesting stats... Last year we had:

217 PB entries

42 MG entries

24 YA entries

I'm so excited to see how many entries we receive this year and what the distribution is.

Whoo! That was a lot. But how fun, right?? I feel so very blessed to be doing this for the second year and I cannot wait to read your amazing stories and see what the kids love.

Comment below letting me know how excited you are for this event!! Or hop on over to THIS TWEET to shout out your excitement!

About Kailei Pew

Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and children's book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary.

Upcoming books include:

THE MONSTER ABOVE THE BED (Clarion/Harper, Fall 2023)

I SEE COLOR (With Valerie Bolling, HarperKids, Winter 2024)

KID-VENTORS (F& F/Macmillan, Spring 2024)



Ellen Meeks
Ellen Meeks
Jan 28, 2023

I love that this event had kid judges. Thanks for organizing it.


Deborah Ishii
Deborah Ishii
Jan 27, 2023

I've just submitted my MG story. Thank you for organizing this contest, Kailei! Who better than young people to judge KidLit writing?


Amy Gatman
Amy Gatman
Jan 22, 2023

This is such an amazing event! Thank you for your hard work and I love the fact that kids will be judges! ❤️📚


Jan 15, 2023

I had so much fun with this last year - I'm delighted to try again!And my son will be judging this year!


Kenneth Major
Kenneth Major
Jan 15, 2023

I just received an email from one of my critique partners about your contest. It sounds like a great contest! I especially that fact that kids will be judging the contest. I have been entering Susanna Leonard Hill's holiday contests for a number of years and mentioned this idea on her blog a while back. Who best to decide the winners than the kids we write for. Planning to enter. Thanks for running it.

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