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National Teen Writing Contest

Open to Teens Across the U.S., from NYPL

Announcement Link

The New York Public Library’s Freedom to Read Teen Writing Contest

Why is the freedom to read important to you? At a time of rising book bans and censorship, The New York Public Library invites teens across the United States to enter our national writing contest exploring this essential right. One grand prize winner will be awarded $500 and 20 additional winners will receive $250 each—plus, we will publish all winning entries in a special edition of NYPL’s Teen Voices magazine. Enter now!  Deadline for submission: Friday, December 22, 2023 | 11:59 PM ET

To find out more about the writing contest, visit this page from the New York Public Library.

  • Read about “Banned Books Week” Oct. 1-7, and the efforts of the NYPL to promote “Freedom to Read”

Why Is the Freedom to Read Important to You?

…we invite all teens, wherever in the United States you live, to make your voices heard by answering this essential question in essays and personal stories of 500 to 1,500 words.

You may want to consider the following: How have book bans affected you and how have you stood against them? How have books and reading shaped your identity? Why is it important in your community that we share the right to read freely? You don’t need to answer these questions—please feel free to interpret the prompt however you like.

At The New York Public Library, we believe that what teens have to say matters.

Publication and Award Details

We are offering a grand prize of $500 to the best essay, with 20 more winners receiving $250 each. All winning entries will be published in NYPL’s Teen Voices magazine, which will be available in print in select locations and online.

Winners will be able to choose how they are credited in the published magazine—either by first and last name, by first name and last initial, or anonymously. The state where the winner lives will be listed alongside the written work.

Contest Guidelines:
  • Entrant must live, work, or go to school in the fifty United States or the District of Columbia
  • Entrant must be between 13 and 19 years of age as of the date of entry.
  • Contest begins at 12:00:01 AM ET on Thursday, September 28, 2023 and ends at 11:59:59 PM ET on Friday, December 22, 2023.
  • Winners will be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability Release and, where lawful, a Publicity Release within 14 days of prize notification. If winner is a minor (under 18), the prize will be awarded to minor’s parent or legal guardian, who must sign and return all required documents.
  • Written work must have between 500–1500 words and should be submitted in a format readable by Google Drive and/or Microsoft Word.

Please read our full contest submission guidelines.