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    Writing in Tandem with a Child


hildren’s writing is condensed talent. The people who can reach the young mind with just the right balance of words and visuals yet still create content acceptable to the millions of critics in the world, rank high in my book. The magical meshing of phrases to keep a fleeting mind entertained takes a special person.

The problem with children’s writing is that the markets are not as common as adult markets, and online children’s markets pass through the Internet like an electrical surge in a summer storm – a flash for a bright second, then gone.

But this problem belongs to the children as well as the children’s writer. Kids who want to write are starved for places to submit. We nurture our youngsters in history, science and language from pre-school. Writing takes a back seat in many educational institutions with creative writing often found way in the back of the bus. As a result, young eager writers go wanting. I’ve read the emails.

“Instead of just writing for a child, consider writing with a child.”

FundsforWriters has a lesser-known newsletter known as WritingKid, designed for the youngster who wants to see her words in print. Teachers, parents and grandparents adore its ten markets for kids from elementary to college age, offering contests, markets and scholarships. The readers write me. You might be surprised to realize that your child writes for the same reasons you do.

  • Publication
  • Self-esteem
  • Name recognition
  • Experience

That thirteen-year-old writing poetry about puppy love was you once upon a time.

Remember all that angst and wonder bottled up inside of you, straining for a release? What about those old diaries that had teeny keys to lock away private wishes and dreams, regrets and struggles, accomplishments and failures?

J. K. Rowling then came along and catapulted youngsters into the fantasy realm.  Now those young readers want to emulate the author and become writers. With the electronic world demonstrating how fantastic writing can become, kids are sitting up and taking notice at what makes for a good story. Many of them are darn good at it, too.

So, you both crave the same goal. You both have these stories dying to be written – stories that young people would enjoy. Instead of just writing for a child, consider writing with a child. Many of the same markets that FundsforWriters lists for school-aged writers also offer opportunity for the adult writer as well.


The Junior High Lifestyle Magazine
Six 78th is a stylish magazine that covers topics approved by parents and teachers to aid girls in their personal, social and academic success. The magazine exemplifies a realistic understanding of the tween years for girls. Adults can write features while girls can write letters for posting about situations in their lives.

Encounter is a weekly Christian magazine for teenagers. The publication accepts nonfiction and fiction of 1,100 words utilizing topics and lessons that reach teens. They also accept first-person stories and poetry from teens.

The Travel Itch
A Canadian publication that asks for travel stories from adults and children. Pays $20 per accepted submission.

A magazine that emphasizes home and family to readers who live mainly in the rural Midwest. Offers paying assignments for adult freelancers and t-shirts to children 12 and under.

Beyond Centauri
Think you can write sci-fi and fantasy as well as your child? This small print publication accepts submissions from both. Pay is small.

What’s Up Kids
A Canadian magazine for kids and their parents. A paying market for adults with a section for young kids to write movie review, enter contests and ask questions.

Girl’s Life Magazine
This publication accepts freelance articles from adults and online submissions from girls under the age of 18.

Junior Baseball
Publication written for the youth baseball player, coach and parent. Pays up to $100 for adult feature and column submissions. A “Player’s Story” is accepted each month written by a child in the 7 to 17 age bracket.

San Diego Magazine
A family and parenting magazine for the San Diego community. Hires adult freelancers and sponsors a teen submission each month. Both are paying opportunities.

VOYA invites submissions from teens for Notes from the Teenage Underground. This occasional column reveals secrets of teen culture to the adults who care. Magazine is geared toward librarians, teachers, counselors, authors, publishers, and youth workers who provide services, information, fun reading, and entertainment for teenagers. Pays for accepted submissions.

“Another set of eyes, regardless how young, can’t hurt.”

(Hope with her grandchildren: Gary and brand new grandbaby Seanna)


In general, a youth magazine has the market potential for the two of you. So do parenting and regional magazines. Any publication that lets kids in the door usually allows adult submissions, too.

Some writing contests offer an adult and a youth division. Why not sit down one weekend with the kid of your choice and prepare entries for the same competition? You could win; she could win; you both could win prizes, often including cash and publication. Write your stories then swap and proof each other’s work. As any member of a writer’s critique group knows, reviewing the work of others teaches you a lot more than proofing your own work. Another set of eyes, regardless how young, can’t hurt.

Remember to always check for entry fees. Most often, adults pay and youngsters are exempt. Usually the fee is nominal, a small price to pay for quality time with a child.

Writer’s Digest Competitions
While Writer’s Digest has many large adult competitions, they also sponsor a monthly assortment of smaller contests. “Your Assignment” and “Your Assignment for Kids” require writers to submit a short piece on a monthly theme. No entry fee.

Petra Keney Poetry Competition
Entry Fee Canada - $7 (Canadian), $5 (American), £3 (Sterling). Submit poetry no more than 80 lines in length. North American deadline December 31, 2007. UK/Rest of the World deadline December 1, 2007. Large adult cash prizes up to £1000 and publication.
Young poets ages 14-18 compete for £250 first prize and £125 second.

Moment Magazine
A Jewish magazine that pays freelance writers well. It also offers contests for both adults and youth fiction, book reviews and essays.

Intergenerational Contest
The deadline just passed on this one, but it’s an annual competition. With an adult and youth division, the entrants must tell a story that involves multiple generations. Cash prizes.

Idaho Magazine
Sponsors an annual fiction contest for adults and youth. Cash prizes. Open to residents, nonresidents, and visitors of the great Gem State. Deadline January 2008. Must have an Idaho setting, theme, or an Idaho character as a central element. Note $5 and $10 entry fees.

Mississippi Valley Poetry Contest
An annual competition with age categories from 60+ to elementary ages for poetry submissions. Note $5 and $10 entry fees.

Mattia Family Poetry Competition
No age limit on the entries. No entry fee. Next deadline in January. Cash prizes.

Dan Sullivan Poetry Contest
An annual event for poetry. Cash prizes. Has adult and children’s categories. $15 entry fee for adults and no entry fee for children.

State and regional writing organizations sponsor annual contests. The South Carolina Writing Workshop organization sponsors both a high school contest and an adult contest with awards announced at the annual convention. The Writers’ Workshop of Asheville North Carolina offers adult and youth contests year-round.

Book fairs, literary conferences and arts festivals may offer contests with a youth division. The Surrey International Writers’ Conference offers both adult and youth competitions to include handsome cash prizes of $100 for kids and $1,000 for adults. Frontiers in Writing in Amarillo, Texas has a similar tandem competition with publication as the prize.

“...imagine reading a story your toddler grew up and wrote herself, and then read to you.”

All too often, children hesitate to write outside Facebook or a private journal. On the other hand, writing parents feel their children do not understand the work that goes into a well-written piece. Instead of each isolating the other, a tandem effort to write might be the glue that binds not only writer to writer, but also adult to child. The mentoring process is a time-tested exchange that rewards both sides, and what better way to mentor than in writing prose and poetry? You once read the tales of others to your toddler as she fell asleep each night. Imagine writing one of your own. Better yet, imagine reading a story your toddler grew up and wrote herself, and then read to you.

Instead of writing for a kid, write with one. In the long run, it beats video games and Disney World. The child you invite into your writing world will remember you a lot longer than Mickey Mouse and Xbox.


C. Hope Clark is editor and founder of and author of The Shy Writer: The Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. She’s published in national publications like Writer’s Digest and The Writer Magazine and trade magazines like TURF, Next Step, College Bound Teen, American Careers and Landscape Management. Writer’s Digest selected her web site in its 101 Best Web Sites for Writers, for the last seven years in a row.


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