Citizen Writers Contest

Citizen Writer writing challenge

Reading Rockets' 2011 writing contest had a new wrinkle. Last year's contest centered on the lives and work of popular children's and young adult authors.

This year, our writing prompts had connections to civics, citizenship, and our communities. We wanted students to think and learn more about America's people, places, and ideals as they work on the prompts — which incorporate several genres and even some visual literacy.

The winner's circle!

Congratulations to all our talented writers — we're proud to publish your creative work here on our website. View the winning entries by category below:

Writing prompts

For our Citizen Writer contest, we selected four very different kinds of writing prompts, designed to match a student interests and stretch their creative skills. For kids who enjoy visualizing their ideas, the mapmaking challenge could be a perfect fit; or, if you have students gifted in music and poetry, they might want to try the songwriting and verse challenge. Find out more about each prompt by clicking on one of the links below:

To get your young writers in the spirit for the contest, you might want to check out the excellent resources on civic education at the Our White House website. The site is a companion to the remarkable book Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, created by the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and published by Candlewick Press.

General information

The contest began on March 1, 2011 and ended April 30, 2011. Winners were announced by May 16, 2011 and prizes will distributed beginning May 24, 2011. There are four grade levels for entries:

  • Level I: K-grade 2
  • Level II: grades 3-5
  • Level III: grades 6-8
  • Level IV: grades 9-12

For full details about the rules, please see the Official Contest Rules page.

Recognition and prizes

A prize package will be awarded to the winning entry in each writing category and for each grade level. Prize winners will receive:

  • Publication of their writing on and
  • A gift basket of age-appropriate books
  • A personalized certificate from Reading Rockets, mailed to their home or school.

We want to acknowledge the wonderful work of all the students who participate in the Citizen Writer contest. Please feel free to download and print a certificate of participation. (917K PDF)*

Citizen Writer certificate


Citizen Writer is presented by Reading Rockets and

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