Writing Contests

Encouraging excellence in young people’s writing

Dreaming of writing
CYWR’s writing contests are organized according to the Guidelines by the National Council of Teachers of English to primarily serve the needs of students and the goals of education for the purpose of the encouragement of excellence.

CYWR's latest contest: “A Story Worth Telling” – Winners announced!

Fall 2022 “A Story Worth Telling” Contest Winners

Prompt: Sometimes a story is so good, it is worth telling to the world! It can be a story about an event in your life or a story of your life, a story about other people, animals, things or events, a story you imagined or dreamed, heard from your family members, or simply thought up in your spare time—small or big, it is worth telling. Write a story that you want the world to know about!

Contest dates:
Contest opened for submission on September 17, 2022.
Submissions accepted until November 7, 2022.
Submissions after November 7 will be considered for regular publication in an upcoming CYWR issue.

Winning works will be published in the special Fall 2022 Contest issue of the Chicago Young Writers Review in November 2022.  Select entries that did not make it into the winners’ issue will be published in regular CYWR issues starting with its Winter 2022-23 issue. 

Official Rules

  1. Contest is open to all K to 8th grade students.
  2. Entries can be fiction, non-fiction or poems.
  3. One to three entries per student—submit your best work!
  4. There is no limit to the number of entries per school.
  5. Entries must be the original unpublished work of the child entering the contest.
  6. Young writers who can’t type yet can ask a parent or another kind person to help type their story.
  7. We will consider publishing written work even if it doesn’t place.

Submissions will be judged on:

Meet our guest judges.


The 1st place winner

- will receive the Chicago Young Writers’ Award of Writing Excellence.

Two runner-ups

- will receive award certificates.

Special prizes

- will be awarded to our finalists and winners whenever our contests have sponsors (we welcome local businesses and individuals to participate!).

One prize will be awarded per a winning story/poem/script. This means that winning writing teams will be awarded one prize per team.

How to enter the contest

  1. Please upload your submissions using our students’ or teachers’ Google forms (buttons below).
  2. Select ‘Yes’ when asked, “Would you like this piece to be entered into our competition?”
  3. Entries can be fiction, non-fiction or poems.
  4. You can submit up to three of your best pieces.
  5. Please have your work typed in a Word document, txt, or PDF file (convert Google docs into docx format.)
  6. A simple format is best: Times New Roman 12 pt. font, standard margins, and 1.5 lines spacing.
  7. If you submit art to accompany your piece, you may note if there is a particular part of the story to which it corresponds (for example, “the castle at the beginning, the daring escape at the end”).
  8. We ask that you keep your illustration submissions to two pictures per written work.
  9. There are no reading, contest entry, editing, or publishing fees at CYWR! Ever! Our publications are free as well.
  10. Manuscripts accepted for publication will appear in the subsequent issues of the Chicago Young Writers Review in the order they were submitted.

Word count guidelines

Stories: 100-1,600 words
Poems: up to 500 words
Song lyrics: up to 300 words
Screenplay/script: up to 1,000 words (not including formatting)
Book excerpts: up to 2 chapters (preferably the first ones so readers have context for the story), up to 1,600 words total

If you need some inspiration or would like to learn the steps to getting published, click here.

Submit your contest entry(-ies) here:

Our upcoming contests’ themes include:

  • The Best Summer Vacation Ever
  • A Day That Went Upside Down
  • If I Could Have a Superpower...
  • An Unusual Day in Space
  • Peculiar Mammals and Unusual Amphibians, Oh My!
  • If I Were an Architect
  • My Favorite Thing About Nature
  • Our Planet, Our Home
  • A Day on the Farm
  • A Letter Worth Writing
  • Blast from the Past
  • New Mode of Transportation
  • The Most Interesting Clubhouse
  • The Oceans’ Secrets
  • Mobster Sharks (!!!)
  • A House Made of…
  • School Rules!
  • New Friend
  • Magic Forest
  • Grandma’s More Interesting Than I Thought!
  • Flower Power!
  • Maps
  • Phone Call from...
  • Portal to Another World

Previous contest

"The Story That Made Me Feel" contest winners

Help us spread the word about CYWR

Download our printable Get Published poster, share it with friends, or post it at your school, library, or community center. Thank you!