You’re Invited: New Writing Contest for Catholic Kidlit! (Just for Fun!)

Hello, readers! I have been in this writing-for-children journey for quite a while now, and picked up a good number of tips and tricks along the way. One of the most fun ways I’ve found is to improve my craft is to engage with the rest of the “kidlit” (children’s book writing) community through critique groups, conferences, and…WRITING CONTESTS!

The general market has LOTS of contests, LOTS of community, LOTS of publishers, and LOTS of opportunity. The Catholic market (and therefore the Catholic kidlit writing community) has…less, which is no surprise given the small size of our segment.

But I have had SO MUCH FUN participating in small-scale writing exercises/contests on other children’s book writers’ blogs (such as those of Susanna Hill and Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez) which happen every so often, especially around holidays.

So this Ash Wednesday, I’m going to bring this fun tradition to our smaller niche! I’m hosting a NEW writing contest for writers! Let’s connect and have some fun writing Catholic kidlit!


  1. Connect to other Catholic kidlit authors.
  2. Spur creativity!
  3. Get in some fun writing practice.
  4. Learn from other writers who participate.
  5. Encourage the writing of stories told from Catholic tradition/with Catholic values…for kids!
  6. and more!
Let’s practice writing stories that share with children what this ^ means!

Here’s how it will work:

1. Write a 200 word children’s story! Write a poem, a story, a mood piece, whatever comes to mind that relates to Lent in some way. It can be Biblical, contemporary, mainstream, etc. It is welcome to but does not have to reference Catholic theology at all, as long as you follow the Lent-inspired guidelines below. Happy, sad, meditative, whatever you’d like for any kidlit age: board book through young adult. Maximum length: 200 words. To summarize, your piece MUST:

  • Include 0-200 words, (not a word more!), AND
  • Relate to one of the photos included in this post (you must indicate which photo) OR include one of the following Lent-inspired words in your text: purple, sacrifice, or cross, AND
  • Be intended for any kidlit age (0-17), AND
  • Not contradict Catholic values or theology.

NOTE: You do NOT have to be Catholic to participate. This contest is open to all. The story simply must correspond with and be respectful of Catholic values/teaching. Can’t wait to read your story!

2. Between February 17 and February 19, 2021 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time, post your response as a comment on the contest blog post (I’ll link it here on Feb 17th). Do NOT post your entry on the page you’re reading now, as it will not be considered.

3. In your comment, please include: 

  • your name
  • the word count of your piece, 
  • the word or image you selected (see instructions),
  • age level of the prize you’d prefer (BB [board book, ages 0-3], PB [picture book, ages 4-8], CB [chapter book], MG [middle grade, ages 8-12], YA [young adult, ages 13-17]),
  • country you’re in, as some prizes are US only, and
  • contact info for if you win a prize (ie. twitter handle, facebook name, or email–sorry I haven’t figured out Instagram yet)

NOTE: One entry per person please.

4. Share, share, share! If you’re reading this far, you’re probably a writer, which means, like me, you probably love reading, especially original work. Let’s share to support and encourage more quality writing in the Catholic kidlit space. Share with your writing groups, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. If we get a large response, it may become an annual thing.

5. Comment on this post if you have questions, comments, or just want to say how excited you are!

Judging criteria I’ll be considering:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using your Lent-inspired word or photo
  3. Quality of story – basic story elements and a true story arc
  4. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it.
  5. Originality – I’d love to see something new brought to the table in this Catholic children’s space! ❤
  6. *Bonus* – I’ll choose the pieces that speak to me most, be they sentimental, sweet, meditative, funny, lyrical, scary, inspiring, or something I haven’t thought of. I’m excited to be surprised!


THANK YOU to the talented professionals who have contributed prizes! This is such an exciting moment, and you are offering your talents and time to make this possible! Your generosity is helping to bring us together and make better Catholic kidlit!

Picture Book manuscript critique from editor Lindsay Schlegel

(Little Lamb Books) – Lindsay Schlegel is a freelance editor with over fifteen years’ experience in a bookstore, literary agency, and a number of publishing houses, including Candlewick Press, Abrams, and Simon & Schuster. She currently serves as editor-at-large for Little Lamb Books, a Christian children’s publisher.

Picture Book manuscript critique from me, Theresa Kiser

Find out more about my manuscript critiques here.

A Little Catholic’s Book of Liturgical Colors by Theresa Kiser

Introduce babies and toddlers to God’s LOVE through the symbolism of the liturgical colors!

The Lamb’s Gift by Brenda Ramirez

Friendships come in all forms, shapes and colors. In this story, it comes in the form of a little girl and a very special lamb that is dyed an array of colors throughout their journey. This story reminds us that sometimes holding on, is holding back.

The author is generously offering an English version or a Spanish version for the winner of this prize.

Merengue by Brenda Ramirez

Camila is a bright, joyful little girl who loved to dance merengue.  After a devastating accident, she becomes paralyzed from the waist down. However, when she receives her new wheelchair she is in for a big surprise. Discover how Camila learns about herself and what she can do.

The author is generously offering an English version or a Spanish version for the winner of this prize.

Digital copy of award-winning novel The Firebrand Legacy (Book #1 of The Manakor Chronicles) by T.K. Kiser

for ages 10-14, “Best Juvenile Fiction” Gold Winner

These titles from Hillside Education:

  • City of the Golden House by Madeleine Polland
  • Tripods Attack! (Book 1 Young Chesterton Series) by John McNichol
  • The King’s Gambit by John McNichol
  • Black Fox of Lorne by Marguerite DeAngeli

A little about Hillside Education, from their website:

“We publish reprints of historical fiction as well as language arts books, and other resources of interest to homeschooling families.”

I can’t wait to connect with my fellow Catholic kidlit writers and encourage more practiced craft for this important and fulfilling vocation!

Please be sure to support the writers, authors, and illustrators by checking out their links, buying their books, reviewing them, requesting a purchase from your library, and sharing about their books on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll be updating the blog with next steps for the contest, so check back before February 17, or sign up here to get an email when the next contest announcement comes out!

Will you be joining the contest? Let me know in the comments!

29 thoughts on “You’re Invited: New Writing Contest for Catholic Kidlit! (Just for Fun!)

  1. lynngracewong says:

    Hi Theresa,
    Excited to have found your site and a contest to boost Catholic Kidlit, too.
    Would love to connect with fellow writers!
    I’m a member of Scbwi and CWG and am wondering if there’s a Catholic kidlit online group that’s open for novice writers.
    A question about the 200 word count… for longer stories (MG book), would a 200 word sample of it be eligible?
    Best of luck to all who participate!

    • Theresa Kiser says:

      It’s great to connect with you too! I’m also in SCBWI and CWG (they’re so great!) and like you, I see the gap–I’m working on just what you described! 😉 Stay tuned!

      For the purposes of this contest, you may submit up to 200 words from a sample of your longer story as long as it meets the requirements set forth in the post. Good luck, and way to go on your WIP!!

  2. seschipper says:

    So excited that I discovered this blog! I’d love to be a part of Catholic Kidlit! I’ve been involved with Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious words contest, and many of Susanna Hill’s projects. Kaitlyn Sanchez’s writing activities are also amazing!. . I am a member of SCBWI! 🙂

  3. Tammy Fernando says:

    Hi Theresa! I am going to enter a Lenten poem about the Passion. I felt inspired by the Lord to write it. After I wrote it I showed it to one family who are friends…they seemed to enjoy it! I hope that others do to…it seems to have a stillness about it…which I didn’t really intend.It seems to have a life of its own! God bless you for putting this together, Tammy x

  4. Tammy Fernando says:

    Hi Theresa,
    I think I introduced myself on the wrong post! I hope that I am on the right post now! Looking forward to the competition and seeing the range of what we are all writing. I am part of the Catholic Writers Guild.
    God bless you,

  5. Rose of Sharon says:

    Hi Theresa,

    I am so excited that you started this Catholic Kidlit Writing Contest. I too am a member of SCBWI, CWG, as well as Catholic Literary Arts, and I agree, there is not much out there for Catholic kidlit. I am passionate about high quality children’s Christian literature and your contest gives me the opportunity to connect with other authors in this genre, in addition to having fun creating a piece for Kids!

    I will be submitting my poem soon since we now have power! I live in Texas and this week full of extreme cold has been challenging, but all is well.

    On the journey,
    Rose of Sharon

    • Theresa Kiser says:

      Rose of Sharon, wonderful to meet you! I am so happy to have you here and am so excited for you to join me and the other writers who have been so kind and excited about this same mission! I’m also glad you got your power back in Texas!! Looking forward to your poem and joining you on this journey! – Theresa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s