World Book night and letters

Tonight is World Book Night, an annual event at the Southbank Centre about which I always read with interest. Next year, I plan to go further and actually research possibilities of attending. I’m particularly sad not to be there at tonight’s event as I read an article on The Guardian online which said that the focus would be letters.

I have always been interested in letters in the literary context. Last Xmas, I received Letters of Note, a book which includes some of the greatest letters across the ages from Virginia Woolf’s last note to her husband to a letter from a young reader to Roald Dahl. The latter is a favourite of mine. Seven year old Amy, inspired by a description in The BFG, send Dahl one of her dreams in a bottle. He responded with the following:

Dear Amy,

I must write a special letter and thank you for the dream in the bottle. You are the first person in the world who has sent me one of these and it intrigued me very much. I also liked the dream. Tonight I shall go down to the village and blow it through the bedroom window of some sleeping child and see if it works.

With love from,

Roald Dahl

Tonight, the Letters Live event will include a number of well-known authors, such as Philip Pullman reading extracts of famous letters. Pullman himself will read Kurt Vonnegut’s letter written in 1973 after 32 copies of Slaughterhouse-Five were burned by a head teacher in North Dakota because of the novel’s “obscene language.”

But arguably the best part of the night will be the book giveaway, which aims to spread the love of reading for pleasure – something which I have written about a fair amount in the past. 250,000 copies of 20 specially chosen books will be given away by volunteers and institutions to help spread the love of reading. The titles, which include a favourite of mine, John Boyne’s The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, have been chosen to appeal to the 35% of the population who don’t read for pleasure.

The event will be followed by 13 regional flagship events at public libraries countrywide. Check here to see if there will be one happening near to you!


Competitions for Children’s Book Writers

Several writers whom I met through SCBWI and at various author events, have got agent representation following a writing competition, which they either won or got shortlisted for. I thought it would be useful to have a record of all the competitions coming up over the next 12 months in the children’s book genre.

Feel free to share and add to!

Undiscovered Voices (SCBWI)
Undiscovered Voices is an initiative by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature – both writers and illustrators – find agents, publishers and ultimately readers through its Undiscovered Voices project.
Deadline: July 2014

The Kelpies Prize
The Kelpies Prize was set up in 2004 to encourage and reward new Scottish writing for children. Winning authors receive a £2,000 cash prize and have their novel published in the Kelpies range.
Deadline: 28 Februrary 2015

The Times / Chickenhouse Competition
What Chicken House are looking for:
Original ideas, a fresh voice and a story that children will love! To enter, you must have written a completed full-length novel suitable for children aged somewhere between 7 and 18 years. By full-length we suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and ask that manuscripts entered do not exceed 80,000 words in length.
Deadline: October 2014

The Greenhouse Funny Prize
A competition for writers of comedy fiction for children. This year it will be for UK, Europe and Commonwealth writers only.
Deadline: Coming soon (check website)

The Academy of Children’s Writers short story competition
The competition is open only to previously unpublished (for profit) writers of children’s fiction over the age of 18.
The story must not exceed 2,000 words in length and may be suitable for children of any age group up to and including teenage. It may be a short story or the first 2,000 words of a novel/longer story.
Deadline: 30th April 2014

The Montegrappa Scholastic Prize
Competition for writers of fiction for children aged 7-12. The prize is an offer of a publishing contract with Scholastic with a literacy agency contact with LBA. It also includes a weekend trip to Italy to visit Venice and the Montegrappa factory at Bassano Del Grappa.
Deadline: 2nd June 2014

The High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature
This annual contest, which is open only to writers with some connection to Cheshire, is for prose of up to 1.500 words and poems of up to 100 lines aimed at children aged between seven and fourteen. It is administered by the University of Chester’s Department of English and funded by Bank of America.
Deadline: 1st September 2014

ACW Stories for Children Competition
The competition is run by the Association of Christian Writers and is for children’s stories of up to 1,000 words on the theme of Encouragement. Stories need not be explicitly Christian but they must have a Christian worldview.
Deadline: 5th May 2014

An international children’s story competition for ages 1-3 and 4-6. The theme of the 2014 competition is “Grandad, grandma and I in our multicultural society”.
Deadline: 31 August 2014