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My son is a reluctant writer, but one way I have found to inspire him to write is by having him enter writing contests that are of interest to him.
You can find many contests by doing a search on the Internet. When performing my search, I used the phrase, "writing contests 2013 for middle school" to focus the search for this grade level. You can search for grade levels that include both elementary and high school grades.
Before spending too much time reading about a particular contest, make sure to look for the deadline date. If you've missed the deadline, make a note of the contest in your calendar or a notebook for the following year. Also, bookmark the website. For example, The Writing Conference Inc. hosts a yearly contest for children in the elementary through high school grades. However, their deadline for this contest was January 8, 2013. I wrote the date and website address in my calendar under the month of November. (I researched their website to see when the contest begins but did not see a date.) This will remind me to visit their website again for next year's contest.
Another thing you want to look for is the list of prizes. Some offer a monetary prize, others offer plaques and/or certificates. The Writing Conference Inc., for example, offers the child the opportunity to have their writing published in The Writer's Slate (an online journal).
Most contests are free but there are some which charge a fee. You'll want to concentrate on the free ones unless the prizes are worth the fee.
During my research, I noticed that many contests end in the first quarter of the year (January through March) so you want to make sure that you start your search during the fourth quarter of the year (October through December).
Below I have listed some contests that are being offered for various grade levels. I listed those which are still accepting submissions first (dates are in red). The deadline dates for the other websites listed have passed, so you'll want to make sure to bookmark these so you can go back and visit them again in the fall.
Pets Add Life - "Kids simply write a poem about their pet and the joys they bring and post it online." Grades 3-8. Deadline: February 22, 2013.
New Voices Young Writers - "This competition is an opportunity to educate young writers on the ePublishing world, as well as the variety and versatility of eBooks. It urges up-and-coming authors to spread their wings, offering the possibility of turning dreams into reality." Ages 11-18. Entries for this contest will be accepted September 1, 2013 through October 20, 2013.
VFW Patriot's Pen - "The Patriot's Pen program is open to students in grades 6-8 who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories." The theme for 2013-2014 is "What Patriotism Means to Me." Deadline: November 1, 2013.
Creative Communication - Students can write on any appropriate subject (no pro-violence, pro-drugs, etc.) Grades 3-12. Deadline: February 19, 2013 and July 16, 2013.
Humane Education Network - A Voice for Animals - "Prizes will be awarded to high school students whose essays best promote the humane treatment of animals." Ages 15-18. Deadline: May 31, 2013.
AdmissionHook.com - "This is an essay contest, and our goal is to collect sample essays to help future students learn how to write a winning essay as well as to provide scholarship money for needy students." Grades 9-12, college, or graduate students. Deadline: June 15, 2013. (Note: When you look at the website you will see a deadline date of December 15, 2011, however on a previous page they have the new dates as shown above.)
American Foreign Service Association - "The AFSA High School Essay Contest is an opportunity for high school students to research international issues in hopes of inspiring and empowering the next generation of Foreign Service workers." Grades: 9-12. Deadline: April 15, 2013.
Olive Garden's Pasta Tales - "To bring awareness to the issue and help find solutions, Olive Garden is asking students, "How would you help end hunger in your community?" as part of the 17th-Annual Pasta Tales national essay writing contest." Grades 1-12. Deadline: March 22, 2013.
Holocaust Remembrance Project - "Designed to encourage the study of the Holocaust and related events in our history and serve as living memorials to the millions of victims of the Holocaust." Grades 9-12. Information for their 2012-2013 essay hasn't been posted yet. (Last year's deadline was in April.)
TeachingWithContests.com - "The purpose of Teaching with Contests is to assist educators in finding contests that can be used in the classroom to motivate students. We are here for the student and the teacher not the promotion of products or company public relations. Our goal is to select contests and programs whose primary goal is education and secondarily business/product promotion." Ages 6-18.
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards - "Teens in grades 7 through 12, from public, private, or home schools, can apply in 28 categories of art and writing for their chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited or published. These are held from December to January.
The Be Kind People Project - Grades K-8. Deadline was January, 2013.
Letters About Literature Writing Contest - "LAL encourages young readers to write to the author of a book expressing how that book changed their view of themselves or the world." Grades 4-10. Deadline was January, 2013.
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Take a look at some of these contests to see if you find one that would be of interest to your child. Hopefully, it will inspire him/her to write.
Writing this post has inspired me to research writing contests for adults. After all, contests aren't just for students. :-)
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