This month publishYOUth spoke with a representative from The Betty Award, a writing contest for children ages 8-12! As one of the few competitions for elementary and middle school students, The Betty Award grants cash prizes for written pieces below 1,000 words. Here we spoke with one of their team members about areas to focus on when entering by October 10th, the pieces that catch their eye, and the inspiration behind the contest!
What was the inspiration behind The Betty Award, and what are the competition's values?
My Mom, Betty, was the inspiration behind The Betty Award. She loved to read and taught us at an early age to enjoy reading and writing. I have wonderful memories of sitting beside her for hours as she read us books. The values of the competition are encouragement of young people to expand their world through reading and writing.
What should students focus on when writing pieces for your competition?
First of all, tell a story - use descriptive words to let us hear, see, smell, feel what is going on. Second, make it simple - don't meander all over and then run out of enough words to finish the main idea. Third, watch your spelling and grammar.
We do judge by age group, so issues in this area won't knock you out of the competition, but if we are deciding the winner between two stories, the one with the better grammar will win. Lastly, once you are finished with the story, leave it for awhile, then come back and read it word for word out loud. You many find some changes are needed when you do this.
There generally are not many writing competitions for middle school and elementary school level youth as there are for high school and college students. Can you tell us a bit about why your team has chosen to provide such a wonderful opportunity for these youth?
When my own three children were in elementary school we could not find any writing contests for them, so I decided to create The Betty Award contest for kids in that age group.
What are the features found in pieces that have caught your competition team's eye?
New fresh ideas (not something from an existing TV show or movie), some lovely poems, stories set in history, stories that show strong positive characters and values.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to younger students that may be unsure about submitting or sharing their pieces in general?
Write about something you are interested in or passionate about!
Special thanks to The Betty Award team for their participation in this interview and the writing community! Feel free to submit to their fall competition by October 10th with the help of the advice above, and stay tuned for their spring contest later on!