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Authentic Audiences for Students

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.13.24 PM
Credit goes to my oldest daughter Larkin for her artwork!

At about this time in the year, many of our teachers are nearing the end of their narrative writing unit. Some of the students are writing some great stories, and others would benefit by having some sort of motivation in order to write one more story or go back and make some meaningful revisions. Contests may be a tool you want to introduce at this point in the year.

Audience and purpose are such important components of Writing Workshops. While peers and parents do serve as good audiences, and there are more and more digital communities available to teachers and students, there are also many contests and opportunities for publishing student writing.

An important word of caution about contests and publication opportunities: they have the potential to take away the element of choice from writers. Yes, they can be motivating–as a writer myself, I may choose to accept a topic in order to enter a contest. However, for students and adults alike, removing the element of pure choice by having specific topics and constraints may not be a healthy choice for writing workshops, depending on the nature of the student, the contest, the topic, and the volume of work the writer has already produced. Any of these options should fit the writer, and the writer shouldn’t have to alter his/her style and voice to fit the opportunity. There’s a balance, and it’s important to be aware of it. It’s a really important point to be aware of as you consider contests and publishing opportunities.

I have compiled other lists in the past of contests and publishing opportunities. At this point in time–August of 2016–all of these options are viable and functioning, but that could change. One of the challenges of these lists is that some contests take years off or end, and some publications temporarily–or permanently–close submission windows. That being said, I am sharing a chart of resources.

If any readers have other resources to share, please do in the comments. We can all benefit from each other’s knowledge of authentic writing opportunities!

A Few Contests


Contest Age Range Special notes and/or considerations Prizes and/or compensation Publication Deadline
Henry Ford Contest Grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 Annual contest with deadlines posted each year
Students write on a specified topic that relates to history and innovators
Varies–last year was a membership and an iPad Air Check back in October.

Historically, around March

The Betty Contest Ages 8-12 Entry fee of $15, 1,000 word limit for stories Cash Two contests in the spring and fall. Deadline for fall 2016 contest is October 8
Mrs. P.’s Be a Famous Writer Contest Grades k-4 Prompt based contest which varies annually Book allowances September through October 15 every year
Letters about Literature Grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 Students write to an author of their choosing about how a book that has impacted them. Varies Deadline is late December or January


Opportunities for Publication



Age Range Special notes and/or considerations Prizes and/or compensation Publication Deadline
Stone Soup Ages 8-13 2 ways to submit work Seeing work in print On-going
Highlights Elementary Welcomes a variety of genres Seeing it in print On-going
Creative Kids Ages 8-16 Explicit directions for submitting work that must be followed Seeing work in print On-going
Canvas Literary Journal Ages 13-19 Submit online. Accepts many different genres up to 5,000 words Seeing work in print On-going
The Claremont Review Ages 13-19 Accepts mailed work only–see website for instructions.

Annual contest is additionally sponsored

Prizes for the contest September to April
Kidlit Elementary Accepts work digitally Seeing work in print On-going
Cyberkids Elementary Especially likes stories, poems, and articles that are funny Seeing work in print On-going
New Moon Girls

Once at the website, go to “how to get published as a girl”

Ages 8-14 All genres welcome, material that supports upcoming themes is especially welcome.

Must be written by girls

Seeing work in print On-going

See upcoming themes for best chance of publication

Guardian Angel Kids Ages up to 14 Monthly themes drive publication.

Submissions require a cover letter and a Paypal account

Strict word count restrictions

$.03 a word, $10 a poem, paid through Paypal On-going

See upcoming themes

Ember Ages 10-18 Accepts several genres and offers suggestions. $.02 a word of $20 a piece, whichever is higher

Ongoing- Ember is published semi- annually

Sometimes the incentive of submitting a piece, even if it doesn’t win, really energizes writers. In any case, it’s always good to know some of the opportunities that are out there!

Melanie Meehan View All

I am the Writing and Social Studies Coordinator in Simsbury, CT, and I love what I do. I get to write and inspire others to write! Additionally, I am the mom to four fabulous daughters and the wife of a great husband.

4 thoughts on “Authentic Audiences for Students Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for this list. This week my students wrote an essay prompted from Scholastic Scope Magazine. I’ll be submitting them to their contest. This Scope had 3 different contest prompts. I also submitted a student story to Hutch magazine by Peter Reynolds.


  2. What a fabulous, comprehensive resource of publishing opportunities for our students! Thank you Melanie! I’ve already forwarded it onto a former student who loves to write and is always on the lookout for chances to be published.


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