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We Read: Youth Voices Writers' Contest

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Winners Announced! 

Submissions for the We Read Youth Voices Writing Contest closed on June 30, 2023. We received over 140 submissions from ages 5 all the way up to 18. Each submission has been read and carefully reviewed by our panel of community judges. If your submission has been selected for the anthology, you have been notified via email or phone call. Congratulations to this year's winners!

Overall Winners: 

Age Group Winners: 

  • Age Group Winner (13-18): Monona Faasuamalie, 13, for She
  • Age Group Winner (Ages 10-12): Ronav Vasanth, 10, for Together We Move
  • Age Group Winner (9 and under): Olivia Lubcke, 9 for Upside Down

If you have not been selected for the anthology, we encourage you to keep writing and submit again next year! We loved reading everyone's interpretation of the theme and are sorry that we cannot fit everyone in the anthology. 

2023 Youth Voices Anthology + Wisconsin Book Festival Author Reception

The judges have selected an incredible 52 pieces to be included in a print and digital version of this year's anthology! The print version will be available at all Madison Public Library locations and at all Madison Metropolitan School District library locations following publication this fall. 

All featured young authors will have the opportunity to come pick up their copy of the We Read Youth Voices Anthology on Saturday, October 21 in the Children’s Area on the Lower Level of Central Library as part of the Four-Day Celebration for the Wisconsin Book Festival. 

The book festival is honoring and encouraging these young authors with a short reception from 10-10:30AM. Donuts, coffee, and other light refreshments will be provided and a brief Q&A with the grand prize winner and two runners-up will take place as part of the reception. Families are invited to stay afterwards for a youth-centered Wisconsin Book Festival author event, too.

The Judges

We Read Youth Voices Writing Contest Judges 2023We want to thank our panel of community judges for their hard work in carefully reading and considering each submission. Our judges represent a wide swath of the literary community here in Madison:

  • Madeleine Bohn, our youth ambassador for the writing contest and the former City of Madison Youth Poet Laureate
  • Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu​, Forward Madison FC Midfielder
  • Ollie Schaal, Briarpatch & Teens Like Us Councilor
  • Kadjata Bah, Journalist at the Simpson Street Press and 2023 Youth Journalist of the Year
  • Casem AbuLughod​, A Senior Teaching Artists at Whoopensocker
  • Kiersten Kansteiner, a Bilingual Resource Teacher at Nuestro Mundo school

We appreciate your help in judging the many submissions we received! 

We Read Youth Voices Writing Contest

We Read Youth Voices Writing Contest How to Participate 2023The theme for the 2023 Youth Voices Writing Contest was “Moving Forward - Together” and was determined by this year’s youth ambassador, Madeleine Bohn. Bohn was the 2022-2023 City of Madison Youth Poet Laureate and was also a runner up in the 2021 Youth Voices Writing Contest for her story, Sunlight

“When we measure something's worth in numbers and figures, we miss out on a whole world of beautiful human connection; we highlight the lines that divide us rather than the common paths we share.” Madeleine says, “So much of empathy and of coming together relies on looking at things from another person's perspective, which is why I'm excited to see the unique ways each young writer interprets this year's focus.”

Age Groups:

  • Ages 7 and under | 250 words or less
  • Ages 8-12 | 750 words or less
  • Ages 13-18 | 1,000 words or less

Check out our 2021 Winners & Honorable mentions 

Learn about our previous contest and read the winners in our online 2021 Youth Voices Anthology

The Prizes

Submissions for the contest are judged by a community panel of judges. 3 talented writers will be recognized for their achievements by: 

  • We Read Youth Voices Writing Contest Winners 2021 at Forward Madison FCBeing recognized on the field at the August 12, 2023 Forward Madison game
  • Receiving a a Forward Madison scarf and custom jersey
  • Receiving a signed game ball from Forward Madison FC players
  • Having their stories published in the We Read Youth Voices Anthology, which will be available in every Madison Public Library location and school library location across the city
  • Featuring them at the Wisconsin Book Festival Fall Celebration.
  • Having their work be shared via social media, the Forward Madison and Madison Public Library newsletters, and other community channels. 

Winner of the grand prize also receives a $500 prize and a scholarship to attend a Young Writer's Camp of their choice through the Greater Madison Writing Project in the late summer or fall of 2023. The 2 runners up receive $250 prizes and the age category winners receive $100 each. These prizes serve as investments in youth - the winner and their families are left to determine the best way to spend or save the funds. 

About the Writing Contest

We Read Youth Voices Writing Contest Anthology 2021Since 2021, Madison Public Library, Forward Madison, and the Wisconsin Book Festival have partnered to support literacy and encourage youth to use their voices through the We Read Youth Voices Writing Contest. The competition is for aspiring writers in the Madison area aged 18 and under to submit a short story, poem, song, etc. on a preselected topic. Each year the contest is judged by a handful of judges from the community and submissions are published in the We Read Youth Voices Anthology [See 2021 Anthology Submissions].

We Read is funded by Madison Public Library Foundation, Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation, Dick Goldberg & Lisa Munro, and Jane Doughty & David Wood.