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Writing for Children Competition


CANSCAIP's 2020 Writing for Children Competition is open

Deadline MAY 31, 2020

The Writing for Children Competition for 2020 is now open and CANSCAIP welcomes entries by unpublished writers.  The Competition launched in 1996  with the goal to encourage and promote new writers across Canada.  The deadline for entries is May 31, 2020.  

Four writers will receive $500 for the winning entry of a Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, or Young Adult; two finalists for each of these categories will also be selected. 

The registration fee for the Writing for Children Competition is $30 for one entry, $50 for two entries, $75 for three entries.

REGISTER: https://www.canscaip.org/event-3777933  

Published CANSCAIP Members volunteer as readers for the Competition; the readers have been published in the age categories they evaluate. The first-round readers evaluate all the entries, and select which entries proceed to the second round. The second-round readers evaluate those entries, and select which entries will be on the longlist. The juries evaluate the entries on the longlist, and decide which entries are finalists and winners. 

All entries receive evaluation comments from the first-round readers.  Entries that proceed to second round will get these additional evaluation comments. Entries that proceed to the longlist will get evaluations from each  member of the jury.  Evaluations are generally a few sentences or a short paragraph.

CANSCAIP sends the winners and finalists to Annick Press, Kids Can Press, and Scholastic Canada for their consideration, and these entries get written evaluations from the publishers.  Over the years, some of the Writing for Children Competition winners and finalists have had their work published. 


  • Unpublished writers: no books published in any genre, for any age, in any country, and not under contract for a future book 
  • Self-published writers with sales below 200 copies 
  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents over the age of 18

NOTE: Writers are eligible to enter if their published work is limited to stories, articles or poems published in anthologies, textbooks, magazines, journals, etc. 


  • Maximum 1,500 words in English
  • Text only; no illustrations (this applies to all categories, including Picture Book)  
  • 11-point or 12-point font, double-spaced 
  • Word or PDF attached to email sent to office@canscaip.org  (printed entries NOT eligible)
  • Chapter Book, Middle Grade, Young Adult:  first chapter plus other chapters/excerpts; submit up to 1,500 words
  • Picture Book: full text will usually be less than 1,500 words; submit complete story
  • Word or PDF attached to email sent to office@canscaip.org  (printed entries not eligible)

      NOTE: You can re-submit  previous entries for the Writing for Children Competition.  You can submit entries sent to other writing contests. You can submit stories that have been sent to publishers, as long as there hasn't been an agreement or contract to publish. 


      • Register online and pay the entry fee before emailing your entry. The fee is $30 for one entry, $50 for two entries, $75 for three entries. 
      • Online payment is by Visa or MasterCard. PayPal processes CANSCAIP's online payments, but you don't need to have your own PayPal account.
      • When your payment has been processed, you'll receive an email confirmation. 
      NOTE: You don't have to send your entry immediately after you register (although you can if you like). Once the entry fee has been paid, you can send your entry whenever you like, right up to the deadline. 


      • When you register an entry, you select one of these reading age categories.  Although your entry may not exactly fit the parameters, select one of the options that fits best.  The reading age categories are used to assign entries to readers.
      • PICTURE BOOK (ages 2 to 8): Picture books are usually less than 1,500 words in total, and are for children who don't yet read on their own, or are read aloud to the child.  Picture books usually have a few sentences or a short paragraph on each page. 
      • CHAPTER BOOK (ages 7 to 10): Chapter books have short chapters, and are for readers who are ready to read on their own. 
      • MIDDLE GRADE (ages 9 to 12): Middle grade books have longer chapters, and are for readers who are ready for more complex stories. 
      • YOUNG ADULT (ages 13 and up): Young adult books can be as long as adult novels, and are for teen readers  who are ready for mature concepts. 


      • Name your Word or PDF entry document with this info in this order: 
        Reading Age Category - Your Name - Title of Entry  
        EXAMPLE:   Picture Book - Mary Smith - The Little White Duck 
      • In the body of the email, provide this information
      1. Your contact info: name, e-mail, phone, mailing address
      2. Short summary of the full story: key characters, key plot points, ending.
      3. Identify the entry's place in your story (e.g., "My entry is the first chapter, the fourth chapter, and an excerpt from the last chapter.") 
      4. Short summary of your writing experience.


      • Attach your Word or PDF entry to an email addressed to office@canscaip.org
      • The following information in this order goes in the  EMAIL SUBJECT LINE: 
        Reading Age Category - Your Name - Title of Entry
        EXAMPLE: Picture Book - Mary Smith - The Little White Duck 
      • For MULTIPLE ENTRIES, attach each entry to a separate email
      NOTE: CANSCAIP does not confirm receipt of each emailed entry;  we just don't have the resources to respond to the hundreds of emails we receive. After the deadline, we cross-reference the registered entries with the entries received, and if a registered entry has not been received, we contact the writer. 


      • The deadline for entries is midnight May 31, 2020
      NOTE: The volume on the final day can slow down payment processing, and confirmation might take several hours. If this happens to you, you can email us your entry before you get the payment confirmation, and we'll notify you if there is a problem.


      • MARCH: Competition opens
      • MAY 31: Deadline for submissions
      • JUNE: First-round readers evaluate all entries 
      • JULY: Second-round readers evaluate selected entries and choose longlist 
      • AUGUST: Announcement of longlist 
      • SEPTEMBER: Juries evaluate longlist and select winners and finalists
      • OCTOBER: Announcement of winners and finalists  
      • NOVEMBER: Reader evaluations sent to all entrants 
      • DECEMBER: Entries of finalists and winners sent to publishers
      • FEBRUARY or MARCH 2020: Publishers evaluations sent to finalists and winners

      Reader feedback for each entry is a unique element of CANSCAIP’s Writing for Children Competition. All the writers receive feedback by the readers who evaluated their entries.

      The Writers' Union of Canada initiated the Writing for Children Competition in 1996, and in 2014 CANSCAIP took on this initiative. A goal of the Competition is to discover, encourage, and promote not-yet-published writers of children's literature across Canada.

      CANSCAIP was founded in 1977. We’re a national membership-based, volunteer-run organization, offering opportunities for professional development for our community of Canadian authors and illustrators of children's books, and children’s performers.

      CANSCAIP office is located within the Centre for Social Innovation, Annex.
      720 Bathurst St., Suite 503, Toronto, ON M5S 2R4

      Email: office@canscaip.org
      Phone: 1-416-515-1559

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