Teens Are Invited to Share Their “Wild Ideas” in Summer Writing Contest

Entries Accepted June 1 – July 31

Everyone has a story to share. This summer, as part of our 2021 Library Summer Challenge: Wild Ideas, Jefferson County Public Library (JCPL) is inviting teens across the county to share theirs.

Get creative as you explore your wild ideas and put pen to paper (or cursor to screen) for the 2021 Library Summer Challenge Writing Contest for Teens! Interact with local young adult authors, who will review your work and offer writing advice. Find tips and tricks for creating inventive and stimulating story structures. And enter to win incredible prizes as part of this summer’s contest.

Submit your entry from June 1 – July 31! Winners will be announced August 23.

Contest Rules

 “The wilderness pulled at me. It still does.”
- author Gary Paulsen, speaking in a New York Times interview.

Write a 5,000-word or less short story inspired by these words from celebrated author Gary Paulsen. (There is no need to mention the quote in the story). Stories must be written in prose.

Submit your story, opens a new window in either the Middle School or High School category. 

After the entry period closes on July 31, a team of qualified judges will evaluate your submission and determine the top-five stories within each age group. Then, local young adult authors will review these top-five selections to determine first and second-place winners in each age group. In the event of tie, JCPL Teen Core Services will review entries and determine final winners.

Submissions will be scored using a rubric based on the following criteria:

  • Addresses theme
  • Plot structure
  • Character development and dialogue
  • Language use
  • Organization and structure

Download, opens a new window and print a copy of the rubric and rules to help you craft your wild tale.


First and second-place winners will be awarded for both Middle School and High School categories.

  • First Place Prize: a brand new iPad
  • Second Place Prize: writing gift basket

Winners will be announced on August 23. Prizes must be picked up in person at any JCPL location.

Interact with Authors

Start your journey to authorhood by getting to know local authors of the Young Adult genre! Not only will a panel of local authors and agents judge the top-five submissions for each age group, but young writers can also hear from and interact with them during our Virtual: Teen Author Panel events on June 29 and July 21

Author Panel

  • Olivia Abtahi
  • Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  • Olivia Chadha
  • M.J. Evans
  • Megan E. Freeman
  • Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl
  • Emily Littlejohn
  • Sandhya Menon
  • Laura Resau
  • Denise Vega

Writing Tips and Tricks

It’s no secret JCPL loves readers, but we love fostering creativity for up-and-coming writers, too! Explore our Writing Guide for online resources to help you explore your craft and re-watch previous author events. Or, check out this list of writing resources specific for teens to help you explore your wild ideas this summer.

2021 Library Summer Challenge: Wild Ideas

Let your imagination GO WILD with Jefferson County Public Library’s Summer Challenge from June 1 to July 31. Pre-registration begins May 1. 

Learn more at jeffcolibrary.org/summer-challenge