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 ivy@ripplefoundation.ca

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 tiff.net/digiplayspace and the details are as follows:

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

LOCATION & ADMISSION
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 Impact of Creative Writing on Child Development

The winter holidays are here and there is so much to look forward to: snow, presents, skating, a Christmas tree and creative writing! While it might seem that creative writing does not quite fit, there are so many benefits to including it into your holiday plans!

Research shows that there are many. A study carried out at the University of Sydney, Australia, shows that the development of creativity is fostered by five elements: imagination, collaboration, intuitiveness, discipline, and persistence, and creative writing happens to target all of them. The study points out that regular engagement in creative writing leads to significant improvement in writing quality, enhanced organization of ideas, greater ability for self-reflection, as well as increased confidence when working in teams. ( https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2015/10/20/creative-writing-boosts-kids-confidence-and-creativity.html)

“In many schools storytelling and creative writing are not prioritised as much as they should be… These interim findings suggest that providing time for the creative writing process is imperative in every classroom. Strong creative thinking and learning skills are critical to students’ social and emotional well being, academic achievement and lifelong learning,” said Professor Ewing, the lead researcher of the study.

According to another research study conducted in Turkey, writing helps kids make sense of information while aiding in the development of important language aspects such as grammar, vocabulary, phonology, and discourse. (Lawwill, 1999; cited in Demir, 2013).

“It [creative writing] requires learners to manipulate the language in interesting and demanding ways in attempting to express uniquely personal meanings. In doing so, they necessarily engage with the language at a deeper level of processing than with most expository texts (Craik & Lockhart 1972). (http://ac.els-cdn.com/S1877042815008678/1-s2.0-S1877042815008678-main.pdf?_tid=07020a46-bf22-11e6-8a4e-00000aacb35d&acdnat=1481406534_74966573a4176b02bf317121233de5d6)

So maybe the best gift for kids and youth this Christmas is actually our 12 Day Creative Writing Challenge! Find out more on our blog and let us know how creative writing has impacted you, your kids, or your students.

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 https://www.youtube.com/user/kidswrite4kids. The detailed rules of the contest can be found here http://www.ripplepublishing.ca/kids-write-4-kids-contest-rules/. 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.