Please welcome Mrs. P, literacy champion, today! I’m chatting with her on the eve of her 10th annual Be-a-Famous Writer Contest.
You’ve been running your Be-a-Famous Writer Contest and your FREE literacy website MrsP.com now for 10 years. What do you look for in a story?
I am glad you asked, especially since you are going to be a judge this year, along with Colby Sharp and, of course, me!. There are five things really:
- Compelling narrative
- Development of a theme or point of view
But then there is the harder-to-define stuff, such as which stories seem to “stick” with us when we read them. In a way, the hard-to-define stuff is the most important: technical proficiency is great, but if a story doesn’t move us, make us laugh or give us insight into another person’s life, it didn’t make it as a finalist.
Why is the writing contest important for classrooms?
My mission is to spark the imaginations of students. The writing contest gives students a voice to share their stories. So many students think writing is scary because they don’t know where to start. I try and instill a simple message to students, “if you can tell a story, you can write a story”. The contest lets teachers and students get out of their daily routine and exercise their creative muscle.
How did you pick the theme this year?
Children’s literature is just FILLED with Heroes! From “Little Women’s” Jo March to Harry Potter and beyond! Not to mention, all those ANIMAL heroes, like Black Beauty and Paddington Bear! Why there’s even a TOASTER hero… “The Brave Little Toaster!”. That’s why I selected HEROES as the theme. A hero can be your best friend, a teacher, the fireman. The possibilities are endless!
Here’s the important information!
The contest opens on October 15 and closes on December 15th.
The contest is free to enter! It’s for K-4 classrooms in the United States. Teachers can have their class either write it collaboratively or have students write individually and then have their class vote on which entry to submit. There’s only 1 entry allowed per class. You can find the rules on my contest page.
A special trailer for students was made by some extraordinary 5th graders in Atlanta. So teachers and parents can share this trailer with their K-4 writers.
There is a promo for the teachers, so they know about the amazing sponsors who support literacy efforts. They help fill the winning classrooms with books in every format, as well as some other technology to help students be creative. Mackin Educational Resources, Tales2GO, Powells Books, Flipgrid, and Buncee.
There are more prizes than ever this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the contest! Simon and Schuster is providing 10 copies of The Great Dictionary Caper. And past author judges, Chris Grabenstein, Peter Reynolds, Josh Funk, Bonny Becker, and Shannon McClintock Miller are also providing copies of their books. So many books for classrooms!
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.