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Black Voices In Children’s Literature: Writing Contest


Monday, September 20, 2021



1st Prize: $1,000, t-shirt, tote bag, and meeting with Strive and Free Spirit
2nd Prize: $500, t-shirt and tote bag
3rd Prize: $250, t-shirt and tote bag


Now in its third year, the Black Voices in Children’s Literature Writing Contest is expanding to the entire Midwest! The contest is now open to Black authors who at the time of entry are at least 18 years of age and residing in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, or Wisconsin.

The name of the contest has been changed for 2021, but its mission has not: to elevate contemporary, culturally relevant children’s stories written by and about Black people. As always, every entry is considered for publication and three cash prizes will be awarded.

About Strive Publishing
Strive Publishing’s vision is a world where Black narratives are centered, valued, and empowered for freedom, equity, and justice.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Strive Publishing exists to help solve two problems: the need for culturally relevant children’s books and the underrepresentation of Black authors. While giving all children the opportunity to see Black culture from different perspectives, Strive Publishing aims to create opportunities for emerging Black authors. We all have a stake in the critical work of uplifting Black voices in children’s literature, and we can make the greatest impact by working together.

About Free Spirit Publishing
Whether at home, at school, or out in the world, all kids face challenges in their lives. No matter how many choices, changes, and opportunities young people encounter, Free Spirit has had the same mission for almost 40 years: to provide children and teens—and the adults who care for and about them—with the tools they need to think for themselves, overcome challenges, and make a difference in the world.

Minneapolis-based Free Spirit Publishing is known for its unique understanding of what kids want and need to navigate life successfully. We’re not afraid to tackle tough topics such as teen depression, kids and anxiety, grief and loss, juvenile justice, and conflict resolution. Free Spirit also offers sound advice with a sense of humor on relevant issues including stress management, character building, school success, self-esteem, community involvement, youth leadership, and more. We aim to meet all kids—toddlers, teens, and everyone in between—where they are (not where we wish they were), and support them to develop their talents, build resiliency, and foster a positive outlook on life so they can reach their goals.

Eligible entries will include original fiction or nonfiction board books for ages 0–4 (50–125 words) and picture books for ages 4–8 (300–800 words) featuring contemporary, realistic Black characters and culture and focusing on one or more of the following topics: character development, self-esteem, diversity, getting along with others, engaging with family and community, or other topics related to positive childhood development. History and fantasy themes will not be considered.

All entries must be your original work, unpublished, and not accepted for publication anywhere at the time they are entered in the contest. Please include the following items in your entry:
-Picture book text along with illustration ideas
-A letter briefly describing your book, specifying the intended audience (including age range), and telling why you decided to write it
-A brief biography and current email address

Judging Criteria
-Cultural relevance and authentic voice
-Presentation (follows submission guidelines, neatness, legibility)
-Suitability (fits publishing category; targeted age group and length are appropriate for children’s manuscripts)
-Content (tightness, clarity, structure, strength of lead/beginning, transitions, impact, satisfactory close)
-Alignment with the spirit of the Contest
-For nonfiction proposals: logical flow, accuracy of information, sound advice

See for details on entry via email, submittable and online methods

Contact Information

Email [email protected] to contact Free Spirit for questions regarding the contest.


https://freespirit. com/contest

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