An Open Letter from Last Year’s Kids Write 4 Kids Winner

Since I began working on Kids Write 4 Kids, one of the most rewarding experiences for me is the positive feedback I receive from kids, parents, teachers, and volunteers. Sometimes they are in the form of a phone conversation, but most of the time, it’s just a sentence or two in an email.

Last weekend, I received an email from Olivia Simms, one of last year’s winners, who wrote How to be an Abbott. After reading the email, I just knew it was something I needed to share since the letter wasn’t address just to me but to the Writer of the Future:

Hi Ivy,

I’ve been back in school for about a month now and although things have felt a little hectic, I can’t begin to explain how much the KW4K experience has helped with my self-confidence in dealing with new challenges (like starting high school!).

 Also, I put this together quickly. It’s a letter, not a blogpost…I just wanted to say something to this year’s participants.

Dear Writer of the Future,

Congratulations, you’ve found one of the best opportunities for young writers in Canada! Kids Write 4 Kids absolutely changed my life and I firmly believe it will continue to help kids across the country realize their writing dreams. But enough about me. What does this mean for you?

Maybe you’re doing this as a school assignment, maybe you’re chasing your dream of becoming an author one day. Maybe you’re doing both! In any case, being published “one day” doesn’t have to mean a trillion years from now. It can mean in a couple months. It can mean by the time summer rolls around, you’re a published author. And if you’re like me, those two words make your heart race and your head spin.

Though some people might question you, make you wonder what business a kid under the age of fifteen has publishing a book, let me tell you: you have every business. If you have a story to tell, you are no different from the Rowlings and Hemingways that came before you. Your experiences in this world are inexplicably unique, not because of the things that happen to you, but how you think of them.

If you take part in this challenge, please don’t do it to impress anyone but yourself. Yes, maybe your teacher is making you do it and you “don’t think you have it in you to write well.” But here’s the secret I’ve learned in talking to authors and becoming an author: everyone feels that way sometimes.

 Don’t just write what you think everyone else will like. Write something that you think is funny. Write something that you’d like to read yourself. Write something that changes the reader, but more importantly, changes you. Because if by time you submit your story, you’ve grown as a person and as a writer, you’ve already won.

What are you waiting for? You’ve got writing to do!

Olivia Simms
Author of How to Be an Abbott

Thanks Olivia, it’s fabulous to hear Kids Write 4 Kids has given you such a positive experience. I believe that it’s powerful for kids to inspire other kids, so thank you, Olivia, for your encouragement to this year’s participants!

About Kids Write 4 Kids

The 2017-2018 Kids Write 4 Kids Creative Challenge was officially launched on October 1st.  This will be our 6th annual writing contest for grades 4 – 8.  There’s still plenty of time for students to get started in writing a great story as the submission deadline is March 31st, 2018.  All the details can be found on Ripple Digital Publishing website.

Would you like a chance to meet one of Kids Write 4 Kids first published authors and win a copy of her book?  Safaa Ali, author of Why Peacock have Colorful Feathers will be reading from her book on Wednesday, October 25th at Indigo’s Manulife Centre location in Toronto. Click here for more details.

How Kids Write 4 Kids Winners are Chosen

Over the last five years, I’ve been asked many times how winners of the Kids Write 4 Kids contest are selected. Let me start by saying I’m actually not involved in selecting the winner.

We have a judging panel that consist of twelve people. Of the twelve, six of them have been on the judging panel since the inception of Kids Write 4 Kids in 2012. They all come from different professional backgrounds – writer, marketer, lawyer, doctor, director, and a production artist. But the one thing they all share is that they all read a lot of books–as much as one a week–and to me that’s very important. You need someone who has read a lot of books to recognize originality and what’s consider a good story. The rest of the panel is made up of guest judges that changes year after year.

They consist of previous Kids Write 4 Kids winners, accomplished published authors, such as Karen Bass, Margriet Ruurs, and Joyce Grant to name a few, and people in the publishing or education industry. You can visit our website to view profiles of our recent judging panel.

It’s with this mix that I believe we are able to select the best story for the masses. To date we’ve published ten titles and all of the stories are very different, ranging from murder mystery, humour, fantasy, fable, and even a collection of poetry.

The judges don’t actually read all the entries, only the top ten stories. We have two very important ladies that go through all the entries to identify the top ten stories for the judges. They are professional editors that work for a big publisher so they know what they are doing! All the stories go through a checklist that we also include as part of the entries submission. Here’re story checklist items:

  • Does my story have a title?
  • Does my story have rising action, a climax, and falling action?
  • Does my story make sense when I read it out loud?
  • Are my sentences complete? Have I checked the spelling and punctuation and grammar in my story?
  • Is my story consistent? Are places, people, and things described in the same way throughout?
  • Is my story fiction or a collection of poems?

Once they have identified the top ten stories, each story is formatted in Times New Roman font, and blinded (that is, all author information removed) with only the title included, so that all the stories are presented in exactly the same format. This is to ensure there is no bias on whether this was written by a 9 year–old-boy or a 13-year-old-girl.

When all the judges finish reading the top ten stories, each judge rates the story online. The judging panel never meets to discuss the stories, so no one is influencing one another.  Each story is rated based on three criteria:

  • Creativity and originality of plot and/or themes – 40%
  • Story structure, characters, and setting – 40%
  • Style and tone; the quality of writing – 20%

All the scores are then entered into an Excel spreadsheet with a formula that allocates the percentage from each of the criteria to produces an accurate score. The story with the highest score wins and gets published. Over the past two years, we’ve published the two titles with the highest scores.

Official winner announcement is made on June 1st and it’s posted on our website. This year, the two winners are Summon The Magic written by Emily Little, a grade six student from Northport Elementary School in Port Elgin, Ontario and How to Be An Abbott, by Olivia Simms, a grade eight student from Glashan Public School, Ottawa, Ontario. We also post the list of runners up to encourage these kids to continue their writing journey.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are 100% volunteer run so all of our judges and editors give their time without any compensation. There are no words that can express our gratitude for their contribution. If you are a published author or someone that works in the educational industry and are interested in being part of our judging panel for 2017-2018 Kids Write 4 Kids Creative Challenge, you can reach out to me at

About Kids Write 4 Kids

Kids Write 4 Kids is an annual writing contest that celebrates the best creative stories written by grades 4 – 8. The winning stories are published both in print and digitally for the world to read. All the books are available at Amazon, Apple iBookstore, and Kobo. To support youth literacy in communities across Canada, Ripple Foundation has committed to donate the annual proceeds from book sales to that year’s winner’s schools. For more information, visit our website and sign up to be notified when the next contest start.



Experience the playground of the 21st century!

This February TIFF Kids rolled out an interactive playground for the whole family – digiPlaySpace. The theme of 2017 is Creative Machines, and the playground invites you to get your hands on robots, algorithms, and machines to build your own amazing creations! Take a look here!

Kids can control a robotic arm, learn to code and paint with light among many other fascinating things. The 23 installations arrived from eight countries to give you that 21st century play experience. It is a fun way to inspire your kids’ creativity through playful, innovative, and educational installations! And what better way to let that creativity run wild than create a futuristic story based on your experience? Kids Write 4 Kids contest is up and running, and your kids have until March 31st to submit their stories!

The award-winning exhibition runs from February 18 to April 23 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Tickets on sale at and the details are as follows:

Start Date: Saturday, 18 February 2017
End Date: Sunday, 23 April 2017
Time: 12:00 AM

TIFF Bell Lightbox
350 King Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 3X5
Information for GPS:
Latitude: 43.64665 Longitude: -79.39041
All Ages | Weekdays, $11; Weekends, $13

The 2016-2017 Ripple Effect Kickstart

October brought a new season, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the kick-off of Ripple Foundation’s signature program, Kids Write 4 Kids. An annual creative writing contest running from October 1st to March 31st, Kids Write 4 Kids celebrates its fourth anniversary this year. The contest’s goal is to inspire young authors from grades four to eight to write their best original story. As adults, we often lose touch with our own creativity as we become preoccupied by the stress of our daily lives. By giving youth the opportunity to express themselves and share their stories, Ripple hopes to help build a generation of adults who love to read, write, and let their creative juices flow!

Every year, KW4K receives entries from all over Canada; last year, 70% of the contest entries were written by girls and 30% by boys. Is the scale going to tip this year? Get your boys to submit their stories, they have some catching up to do!  Below you can find the detailed stats on our previous contests.

province-province province participants-by-gender

In the meantime, check out our YouTube channel and meet our winning authors The detailed rules of the contest can be found here We are excited to see what the contest results will look like this year! Give us a shout on Twitter @KW4K if you are planning to participate or know someone who should.

The Ripple Effect

It all started with a splash–Splash Interactive–a company Ivy Wong founded in 2001. Ten years later, Ivy’s strong passion for inspiring creativity and literacy in youth grew into a second initiative: Ripple Digital Publishing. This new company gave her the platform to focus on creating apps and ebooks for kids. One year into Ripple, she had an epiphany: Ivy wanted to come up with a program that would give back to the community. As a publisher focusing on educational products for kids, she took time to find the right fit for everyone. It would need to be a program that would inspire youth to be creative, to read, and to write. It would need to be a program that would help give back to the communities and schools of these children. And so, Kids Write 4 Kids was born.

The Dream Begins

The Kids Write 4 Kids creative writing challenge was launched in September of 2012. To get the word out, Ivy started in her home, stuffing envelopes and mailing letters and brochures to school boards across Canada. She then followed up with postcards and emails. Image shown above is 2012 Kids Write 4 Kids Call for Entries theme used for brochures, posters and postcard.

“It was December and we still had not received a single entry,” remembers Ivy, “the experience was nerve-wracking.” Little did she know what was to come of her valiant efforts; on March 31st 2013, the day of the creative writing challenge deadline, she received 165 entries from across Canada. “I was pretty excited that I received over 100 entries given this was our first year.”

It was official, the Kids Write 4 Kids program had successfully launched. For its first year, the judging panel selected four winning titles from all entries received and gave the winners’ schools the first year earnings from the book sales of the kid authors. To check out these winning titles and all winners to date, or, to support young authors and their schools, visit Ripple Digital Publishing website.

Growing the Dream

For three years Ivy ran the Kids Write 4 Kids creative writing challenge on her own, producing the marketing materials, engaging schools, collecting entries, selecting judges, printing the books, and creating ebook versions. This proved to be a lot for one individual to take on while employed full time, even if her energy was sustained by her passion!

She realized if she wanted to grow this program and positively impact the lives of more youth across Canada, she couldn’t continue to do it all on her own. In 2015, Ivy decided to look for help from like-minded individuals.

Her search did not take long; within days she was astonished by a flooded inbox, filled with responses from people excited to become a part of the Kids Write 4 Kids initiative. “I’m actually inspired by the commitment of the volunteers,” shares Ivy.

That was a key turning point for the Kids Write 4 Kids program. In August 2015 Ivy established and registered Ripple Foundation as a not-for-profit organization, run entirely by volunteers, under which Kids Write 4 Kids will continue to operate and, hopefully, joined by other similar youth-focused programs and initiatives in the years to come.

To learn more about Ripple Foundation and how you can support or volunteer, please visit Ripple Foundation website.