Mardigian Library

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Young Authors' Festival

A Celebration of Writing for Students in 3rd-5th Grades, their Parents, and Teachers

Writing Contest Entry & Guidelines

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Young Authors' Festival Writing Contest for Grades 3 - 5

Jean Alicia Elster's book, The Colored Car, highlights the theme of experiencing something unexpected. We invite students to write a personal narrative, poem, or essay related to the theme. We also encourage students to write about personal stories and memories related to experiencing something unexpected. If students do not want to write about a personal experience, they may write about someone they know, make up characters, etc.

Awards are given to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for each of the grades along with one grand prize winner.

Writing Contest Rules:

  • Write to the contest theme: experiencing something unexpected.
  • Students in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade may enter.
  • Submit one piece of writing: essay, poem, or narrative. Illustrations may be included.
  • Include a unique title.
  • Meet the strict 500-word limit (does not include title). Use the computer's word count feature; understand entries that exceed the 500-word limit will not be read.
  • Provide original writing.
  • Handwritten entries are permitted, but typed entries are strongly preferred.
  • Do not include student's name on entry.
  • Submit a coversheet.

Winners will receive Barnes & Noble gift cards. Winners may be invited to read an excerpt of their writing at the Young Authors' Festival (pending time restraints) on November 9, 2019.

Contest Entry Due Date: Friday, October 11, 2019

Entries must be emailed or uploaded by Friday, October 11, 2019 at 5:00 P.M.; late entries cannot be accepted.

Winners will be notified on October 25, 2019.


The student's name MUST NOT appear on the piece of writing, but it should include the unique title. A coversheet is required with specific details listed below.

  • Full Name of Student
  • Grade Level
  • Unique Entry Title
  • Word Count
  • School Name
  • School Address
  • Teacher's Name
  • Parent's Name
  • Sponsoring adult's email address
  • Sponsoring adult's telephone number

  • A fillable PDF coversheet is provided for download, and is preferred.

    Email digital entries including coversheet to

    Please note that physically mailed entries are no longer accepted. If you have handwritten entries, please scan them and send them as email attachments.

Young Authors' Festival Sponsors