While 826 National does publish some of the most beautifully designed kid-authored books I’ve ever seen, they’re certainly not the only organization that publishes books written by school-aged kids. If you’re interested in more examples of superior student publications, you should definitely check out the current and past winners of Scholastic’s Kids Are Authors Contest.
Scholastic, publisher of both Harry Potter and school book order catalogs (not sure which is more famous), sponsors an annual contest for K-8 students in the United States in which teams of students can collaborate on writing and illustrating their very own book. Students can submit their books to Scholastic, which publishes two winning entries each year – one fiction and one nonfiction – and sells the finished books via their national network of school book fairs.
The contest itself is extremely cool – the deadline for this year’s submissions is March 15, 2014 – and all of the winning entries I’ve read have been equal parts fun and impressive. There’s just something very enlivening about seeing kids put together their own books and having such control over the words and art. There are always these quirky, inspired moments in each book that I don’t think would ever occur to an adult author, but they just feel perfectly natural coming from kids.
Past winners of the Kids Are Authors contest include titles like The Seeds of the Milkweed (written and illustrated by second grade students from East End Elementary School, Little Rock, Arkansas); White Tails and Other White Tales (written and illustrated by second grade students from Longfellow Elementary School, West Allis, Wisconsin); Two Dollars, One Wallet (written and illustrated by third grade students from William McKinley Elementary School, Burbank, California); and A Kid for Jack (written and illustrated by fourth grade students from Piney Grove Elementary School, Kernersville, North Carolina), among others.
It’s terrific that Scholastic publishes these books, however, the winning titles are exclusively sold through Scholastic school book fairs, so it’s not tremendously easy to get copies of past winners online (or to get the current winners if you don’t live near a book fair location). They’re not sold on Amazon or anywhere else, though I’ve occasionally seen a few copies of past titles on eBay.
So, if you can make it to a book fair this year, I’d really recommend checking out the winners of the Kids Are Authors contest. There’s something awesome about kids writing for an audience of their peers. The books connect with their readers in really interesting ways and such creativity and drive should always be rewarded.
AND, if you think your K-8 kid should be a published author, check out the contest guidelines HERE. They could maybe run the idea past their teacher, put together a creative team, and who knows? They just might have their hard work featured in book fairs across the U.S. and find themselves on the path to becoming the next Mo Willems or Kate DiCamillo.