Writing Contests

Contests are a great way to sharpen your submission skills, stretch your imagination, and get your work out in the world. That’s why the Institute runs adult and kidlit writing contests throughout the year. Each contest culminates in a Winners Workshop where we announce the winners and critique the winning entries to help all entrants improve their skills. Plus, each contest has cash prizes for the top five entries. Check out our contests below.

ICL The Great Outdoors Picture Book

Let’s get outside! For this writing contest, we want to see your picture book manuscripts that take place outdoors and show us the adventures kids can have when they get out of the house. Your entry must be a fictional story aimed at 4-7-year-olds and be no more than 600 words.


  • Fiction picture book manuscript (Text only, no illustrations)
  • Full story, including beginning, middle, and end
  • 600 words or less
  • Click here for more details

IFW My Funny Family Personal Essay

Is your family funny? This contest will be your chance to share a story about your family that will have us giggling, guffawing, and falling off our chairs.


  • Personal Essay written in first person point of view
  • True and funny story that somehow inspires
  • 1,000 words or less
  • Click here for more details

ICL Poetry for Kids

Start working on your haikus, limericks, and sonnets! Our next poetry contest opens this summer. Check back here for more details on the theme and submission guidelines.


  • This contest will open in Summer 2022.

Looking to improve your contest entry?

by ICL Instructor Nancy Coffelt

by ICL Contributor Jan Fields

with Katie Davis and Nancy Coffelt

Our Most Recent Contest Winners
Past Contests and Winners

Check out our past contest themes and winners!

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