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Kids' Choice KidLit Writing Contest Rules and Prize Donors

Updated: Mar 15, 2022


Can you tell I am super excited? I mean, SO SO SO excited!

It's the 1st Annual Kids' Choice KidLit Writing Contest!!!!!

Well... almost ;)

Today is the day I share all of the rules so that you can spend the next three weeks writing your hearts out in an effort to win over our kid judges! We'll start with the basics in case you missed my announcement post, and then we will dive into the veeeeery specific rules. You will want to read these and follow them exactly, because if you don't, you could be disqualified.

Also, as a side note, you can use and follow #KidsChoiceKidLitWritingContest on Twitter to help spread the word and let me know what you're working on!

The Basics:

The Kids' Choice KidLit Writing Contest is a writing contest like no other. PB, MG, and YA authors will submit entries here on my website from January 31st through February 2nd.

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 entries we get, but it will be enough to have a consensus).

Then based on the votes from the first round, I will send ALL the kid judges the approximately 10 finalists in each 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 100 total kid judges ready 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 14th.

Now that we got the basics down (I know, I know... those were more detailed that most "basics."), we will now get into the very very specific rules. Again... follow these rules! Please don't try to sneak an extra word or two in. You will be disqualified and the kids won't even get the chance to read your wonderful work. Know these rules. 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.

The Theme:

When I first had the idea for this contest, I wanted to have a specific theme every year. But then the more I thought about it, the more I want this contest to be completely about kids and what they love. So while there is no specific theme, you could also see the theme as "impress a kid."

Consider using one of your new StoryStorm ideas (if you aren't doing story storm, check out the details from Tara Lazar). And remember... Today is Hollie Wolverton's #FirstDraftFriday, so this could be a good time to get an idea down and then revise over the next three weeks.

The Rules:

  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 will be hosting a "Kids Write KidLit" Contest just for them in July.

  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 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 31st and February 2nd to post your story in the comments section of the Contest Page. Read the details below on how to format your entry. (While it's not required, you may want to subscribe to my blog in the box at the bottom of this page to make sure you don't miss the right page to enter on. I will email out a link when the Contest Page opens).

  6. Only ONE entry per person.

  7. You may post your entry to your own personal blog, but you must ALSO enter through a comment on my website following the guidelines below. But you may include a link to your post on your website if you like.

  8. Submission Window will open Monday, January 31st, 2022 at 12:01 AM Mountain Time. Deadline for posting your entry is Wednesday, February 2, 2022 at 11:59 PM Mountain Time.

  9. If you have any problems posting your story in the comments section, please fill out the contact form on my website and I will get back to you ASAP and help get your comment up. If for some reason you need me to post your entry for you, you can do so by filling out the contact form as well.

  10. Make sure to uncheck the "join this site's community" when leaving your comment. Unfortunately, if you do not, you will get an email every time someone comments on the post. This is an issue with Wix websites that I am seriously hoping changes soon. If it doesn't, I will make sure to move to a different host before next year's event... If you miss this step and start getting lots of notifications, you can simply click "unsubscribe" on one of the emails. I will still have your email logged to contact you if you win.

  11. Have fun reading other entries and even 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Winners will be announced around March 14th, depending on the judges. First place winners will choose from the list of prizes below. 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.

  14. If you would like to include links to your social media when you post your story, feel free to do so. You never know who might stumble on your work here and what connections you might make!



By: (Your Name)

Genre: (PB, MG, or YA)

Paste your story here.

I know this is very specific, but please remember that I am coordinating this by myself with 100 kid judges. I will be creating groups of judges, sending out hundreds of emails with the stories for each group of judges, 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.

Well... I think that covers everything. I admittedly have never done this before, so if I am missing something, don't hesitate to point it out. Comment below with any questions you might have so that others can read them and see the answers as well.

And now, for another exciting part! The prizes! I mean, being named a Kids's Choice winner is going to be a pretty cool prize in itself, because don't we all just want kids to love our work?? But some extra incentive is also fun, right? This list is a living and growing list, so check back on the day of the contest for the final list!

I first want to give a HUGE thank you to all of our prize donors. It really does mean the world to me that these people believe in this un-proven contest in its inaugural year. I will be forever grateful to everyone who keeps saying "yes" to me and my wild ideas, even when they are not yet proven. I love this community so much.

In no particular order, the prize options are:

Prize A: Ask Me Anything 20 Minute Phone Call with Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, high school math teacher, picture book author, co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, creator of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest, and a associate literary agent at Context Literary. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch shows on Hulu and Prime, and, of course, read. Her favorites are historical fiction, short stories, dramas, fantasies, mysteries, and of course picture books! She especially loves it when her husband, daughter, and her all cozy up and read together.

Prize B: 30 Minute Ask Agent Session with Agent Jemiscoe Chambers-Black

Before Jemiscoe "Jem" Chambers-Black joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2020, she was an assistant director for film and television. Her love for books prevailed, and she went back to school to study English Literature and creative writing in fiction and earned her MFA. She represents illustrators, picture book authors (by referral only), MG, YA, and adult authors. In picture books, she enjoys laugh-out-louds, tight rhyming, and heartfelt books that deal with family, friendships, and emotional literacy.

Prize C: 30 Minute Zoom chat with agent Emily Forney and Author Kailei Pew about the author-agent relationship

Emily Forney is a literary agent for BookEnds Literary, a digital media and rhetoric teacher, cultural critic, and a writer for what feels like an eternity. She currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona at the mercy of two cats and a dream of owning a goat farm one day.

When she isn't reading submissions, working with her authors, or procrastinating her own writing, she's usually binge watching an unhealthy amount of television and stress baking when deadlines are near.

Prize D: Picture Book Critique from agent Joyce Sweeny

Joyce Sweeney is the author of fourteen novels for young adults and two chapbooks of poetry. Joyce worked as a writing teacher and coach for twenty-five years. During that time, she guided over sixty of her students to traditional publishing contracts, which earned them her ‘magic bean’ award. In 2020, Joyce got the opportunity to take mentoring to the next level and joined The Seymour Agency. She specializes in picture books and middle grade novels, both fiction and non-fiction.

Prize E: Query Critique from editor Taryn Albright

Prize F: Editor AMA Phone call with editor Taryn Albright

Taryn Albright is an editor at KiwiCo Press. In over a decade of editorial roles, she has worked with bestselling and award-winning authors on everything from board books to children’s nonfiction to YA fantasy to adult romance, and her favorite type of book changes based on the day. She lives and swims in the Bay Area.

Prize G: PB MS and Query Zoom Critique with author Brian Gehrlein

Brian Gehrlein is the creator of Picture Book Spotlight and #PBCritiqueFest, a member of SCBWI, and is represented by Jennifer Mattson of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. He wrote a book. It's called THE BOOK OF RULES.

Brian teaches high school English and lives in Liberty, Missouri with his wife, Katherine, sons Peter and Albee, and their two corgis!

Prize H: PB MS critique from author Tara Lazar

Tara loves children’s books. Her goal is to create books that children love. She writes picture books and middle grade novels.

Some of her books include:

Absurd Words (Sourcebooks eXplore)

Bloop (Harper Collins, 2021)

How To Trap A Leprechaun (Harper Collins, January 2020)

The Upper Case (Disney*Hyperion/Little, Brown, October 2019)

In November 2009, Tara created PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) as the picture book writer’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In 2017, PiBoIdMo’s name was changed to Storystorm and it’s now held on her blog every January…with nearly 2,000 participants from around the world.

Prize I: 30 min. Zoom critique or AMA with author Kailei Pew

Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and children's book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary. Kailei's debut Middle Grade Book, KID MADE will be coming to you from Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan Spring 2024.

She also has two unannounced picture books slated for 2023 and 2024 releases.

Prize J: PB MS critique from author Leila Boukarim

Leila Boukarim was born in Lebanon, raised in several countries, and now resides in Berlin, Germany. She spends her time writing stories that inspire empathy and encourage meaningful discussions between children and caregivers. She has published several picture books with Marshall Cavendish, Penguin Random House SEA, and Chronicle Books (2024).

Prize K: Query Critique from author Jocelyn Rish

JocelynRish is a writer and filmmaker who never imagined her cheeky sense of humor would lead to a book about animal butts. BATTLE OF THE BUTTS is out now, and BATTLE OF THE BRAINS is coming 11/8/22. When she’s not researching unusual animal facts, she tutors kids to help them discover the magic of reading. Jocelyn has won numerous awards for her short stories, screenplays, short films, and novels and lives in South Carolina with her delightful dogs. You can find her at

Prize L: PB MS Critique from author Emma Pearl

Emma Pearl's debut picture book MENDING THE MOON will be published by Page Street Kids in 2022, with the sequel SAVING THE SUN out the following year. Emma was a PB mentor for the WriteMentor summer program 2021, a middle grade mentee in 2020, and had a YA novel longlisted for WMCNA 2020.

Prize M: A Non-Rhyming PB critique from author Lauren H. Kerstein

Lauren's debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions) splashed onto bookshelves in June 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions), snuggled into shelves September 1, 2020. HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) moved into shelves on February 2, 2021.

Lauren loves stretching her creative brain with StoryStorm, ReFoReMo, 12x12, NaPiBoWriWee, #FireButtChallenges, and conferences. Lauren is a judge with Rate Your Story, and runs her own critique business. She is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, which takes place in September each year. She is also a member of Picture Book Buzz, Seen in '19, 20/20 Vision PB's, and 2020 Book Look, 2021 Picture Book Scribblers, and 2021BookBlast.

Prize N: 15 Min AMA Phone Call with author Valerie Bolling

Valerie Bolling has been an educator for almost 30 years, and her debut picture book, LET’S DANCE!, was published in March 2020 and won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award in 2021. Valerie has two books scheduled for release in 2022 (TOGETHER WE RIDE and RIDE, ROLL, RUN:TIME FOR FUN), five more slated for 2023 (TOGETHER WE SWIM, NEIGHBORHOOD JAM, and ZOYA GLITTERS!, a Scholastic early reader series), and one for 2024. Valerie and her husband live in Stamford and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.

Prize O: A copy of Bugs for Breakfast: How Eating Insects Could Help Save the Planet (Chicago Review Press, 2021) from author Mary Boone

MaryBoone has ridden an elephant, hung out backstage with a boy band, and baked dozens of cricket cookies – all in the interest of research for her books and magazine articles. She’s written more than 60 nonfiction books for young readers. Her most recent book is Bugs for Breakfast: How Eating Insects Could Help Save the Planet (Chicago Review Press, 2021). Mary lives in Tacoma, Washington.

Prize P: A signed copy of My Sister, Daisy from author Adria Karlsson

Adria Karlsson currently spends her time writing and parenting, but she has a history of teaching people, training cats and dogs, and tutoring dyslexic kids. She spent most of her childhood wondering how people knew what they wanted to be when they grew up and why it was so hard to get her materials organized. She has spent most of her adult life the same way. She has been pleased to discover that being an author means getting to ask lots of questions, find lots of the answers, and share the answers by turning them into interesting stories. Her first book, My Sister, Daisy, illustrated by Linus Curci, was inspired by questions she and her family had and the answers they figured out.

Prize Q: First Chapter Critique from author Lorraine Hawley

Prize R: $25 Amazon Gift Card from author Lorraine Hawley

LorraineHawley is the author of Curious World of Dandy-lion, a middle-grade fantasy. She lives in Arizona and writes stories about tweens, teens, adults, and fantastical worlds. While she has attempted to write non-magical stories, her characters have refused to stay reality grounded, leaping off the pages to fly.

Prize S: Winner's Choice of Picture Book by author Pamela Mones

PamelaMones has been drawn to writing as a child and pursued her passion by becoming a journalist and newspaper editor for more than a decade. Now retired, she currently writes adult fiction, and picture books. She lives in Florida, surrounded by aquamarine waters, stunning beaches, and an abundance of beautiful birds, manatees, dolphins, and turtles.

Prize T: A copy of Hop To It: Poems to Get You Moving (Pomelo, 2020) by author Sarah Meade

Prize U: Winner's choice of Book with custom drawing on the edges by author Michelle Mohrweis.

Michelle Mohrweis is a middle school Robotics and Engineering teacher. She writes MG contemporary books about STEM Girls, as well as MG fantasy. She is an avid reader and a moderator at the annual Tucson Festival of Books. Michelle lives in Arizona with her husband and two dogs. When not writing, she can be found chasing her dogs around the house with remote control robots and launching paper rockets down the middle of her street.

Prize V: Query Critique from YA Author and 2021 BookEnds Publishing Fellow Elba Luz

Elba Luz is a Puerto Rican author and lover of stories, whether they be in the form of anime, manga, video games, and of course, books. She writes YA contemporary books about chaotic bi characters. If you ask her sister, she’d tell you Elba stole her personality from every character in Schitt's Creek. When she’s not replaying Final Fantasy for the millionth time or searching for the perfect empanadilla, she’s adding ideas to her never-ending WIP list.

Prize W: Non-Rhyming PB Critique from Author Shannon Stocker

Shannon Stocker is a writer, singer/songwriter, and fierce advocate for those who are differently-abled and/or chronically ill. She is the author of upcoming picture books LISTEN: HOW EVELYN GLENNIE, A DEAF GIRL, CHANGED PERCUSSION (coming from Dial/Penguin UK in April, 2022), WARRIOR (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023), and her 2019 debut CAN U SAVE THE DAY (Sleeping Bear Press). She’s a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The proud word nerd lives in Louisville, KY, with her husband, two children (including one cancer warrior and one with ADHD), and stash of hidden dark chocolate. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville and is a 12x12 ninja.

Cool facts: Shannon survived medical school, a coma, and once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton. She’s also proud to announce that LISTEN was recently selected by the JLG as a book club pick. Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.

Prize X: Query Critique from YA Author Melissa See

Melissa See is a disabled author of young adult contemporary romances. Her debut book, YOU, ME, AND OUR HEARTSTRINGS releases from Scholastic this July. Melissa currently lives in the New York countryside where she’s pursuing her education to work in children’s publishing. When not writing, she can be found reading, baking cookies, or curled up with her cat, most likely watching anime or 90 Day Fiancé. Her work has previously appeared in Anime Impact: The Movies & Shows that Changed the World of Japanese Animation.

She is represented by Emily Forney at BookEnds Literary Agency.

Prize Y: Query Critique form Author Emi Pinto

Emi is a Canadian writer and recent Doctorate of Education graduate. She loves to write middle grade and young adult fantasy about families, food, and witchy mischief, and weaves her mixed Indian and French-Canadian heritage into her stories. When she isn’t reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks in the Ontario NCC forest trails with her husband, looking for fairy doors. Find her on Twitter

Prize Z: PB MS Critique from Author Kailei Pew

Prize AA: NF MG First 5 Pages Critique from Author Kailei Pew

Kailei Pew is a wife, mother, and children's book author represented by the amazing Emily Forney of Bookends Literary. Kailei's debut Middle Grade Book, KID MADE will be coming to you from Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan Spring 2024.

She also has two unannounced picture books slated for 2023 and 2024 releases.

Prize BB-FF: $10 Gift Card to BookShop.Org (5 available)

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores.

Whooo! That is a lot of really awesome prizes! And remember, I'll be adding to the list as more donations come in, so make sure to check the final list on January 31st when the submission window opens. Once again, a HUGE thank you to all of our prize donors. I'm so very grateful to each of you.

Well, friends, I think that is officially the longest blog post I have ever written in my life. I am so very grateful to each and every one of your for considering this writing contest. I hope you all decide to enter and am looking forward to reading each submission. The kids are SO excited to judge and I'm excited to see what they choose. I will not influence them at all, their parents/guardians will not influence them at all. They are truly making the calls. I can't wait to see where this takes us!

Comment below if you have any questions, or just want to WOO HOO and let's do this thing!


49 Yorum

Tanya Pfeiffer
Tanya Pfeiffer
09 Şub 2023

Kailua, I cannot imagine what it takes to organize something like this! You are a treasure! Thank you for doing what you do. As a brand new author, I can't tell you what this means to me to know that children will be "test driving" my sample. I also would like to thank all of these writing professionals who have donated their time to offer us such quality prizes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


03 Şub 2022

Kailei, thank you so much for creating and hosting this magnificent Contest.

As Teachers, we are judged each day by our students, from our outfits and hair styles to the way we communicate our teachings.

Can you just imagine how inspiring it is for strongly opinionated kids, to have the opportunity to read our creations?

Can you feel how immensely powerful they are, judging the quality of our stories?

This is a catapult for self-strength, creativity, and above all, PROMOTING READING.

Thanks Kailei Pew from all of us: Judges and Writers!

Good Luck to Everybody, Especially Our Host.


Thank you for this innovative and fun contest, Kailei!


CJ Penko
CJ Penko
31 Oca 2022

I can't even imagine how stressful this must be to start a contest like this, but we are so grateful. Thank you so much for being another pioneer in the kidlit-twitter-contest world. I'm certain this is going to be a wonderful annual event. You should be so proud. :)


Best wishes for smooth operations as you carry out this unique contest idea. My sample is now complete and ready. What a wonderful opportunity for the young judges to hone their analysis skills and just plain enjoy reading new work!

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