Wild Ideas Abound in Teen Writing Contest

Announcing Winners and Finalists

More than 60 short stories were submitted by teens as part of the 2021 Library Summer Challenge: Teen Writing Contest. The wide array of entries all demonstrated the amazing talent and imagination of Jefferson County teens and perfectly echoed this year's Summer Challenge theme: Wild Ideas. Both the quality and quantity of submissions received this year far exceeded expectations. 

As Olivia Chadha, local author Rise of the Red Hand, and one of the 10 author-judges who reviewed submissions, says, "The writing I reviewed showed promise and a joy for writing and storytelling."

As part of the contest, teen storytellers were challenged to write a short story based on the quote from author Gary Paulsen: “The wilderness pulled at me. It still does.” Entries were judged by a group of 10 published authors who specialize in young adult writing, and final votes were submitted on August 20. 

A hearty congratulations to this year's winners and finalists:



  • High School: Ava Guttormson, Abriana Otooborgo, Catalina Dyson, Grace Knutson
  • Middle School: Emarie Rothe, Corey Saffer, Rhys Bernier

We want to extend a special thank you to the author judges who helped us select our finalists:

As Chadha observes, a writing contest like this offers young writers the opportunity to explore their calling and gain confidence in their craft. 

"[Participating in the contest] would have set me on a clearer path to professional writing early on,” says Chadha. “There's a big divide in schools between what happens in school and the ‘real world.’ These real-world contests can validate creative work, not for a grade, but authentically."

Explore the works of some of our teen winners and finalists or foster your own love of writing at the Library. Check out our Writing Guide for online resources to help you explore your craft and re-watch previous author events. Or, browse this list of writing resources specifically made for teens!

We appreciate the support of this year's Summer Challenge sponsors: