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We Read: Youth Voices Writers' Contest

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Submissions for this form are closed.

2021 Winners Announced!

Our panel of community judges enjoyed reading all 41 submissions for the contest and had a tough time narrowing it down to just a handful of winners! Congratulations to our 5 finalists + winners for 2021. We are proud of the work you submitted and are excited to elevate your voices:

  • Grand Prize Winner ($500 Prize): Mariel Duran-Martinez, Age 17
  • Runner Up ($250 Prize): Madeleine B, Age 13
  • Runner Up ($250 Prize): Eli Mitchell, Age 12
  • Finalist 1 ($100): Delia Dreyfuss, Age 9
  • Finalist 2 ($100): Lua Ali, Age 8

The 2021 We Read Youth Voices Anthology is in the process of being printed and will be available for check out from Madison Public Library soon! The anthology will include 19 submissions and includes honorable mentions in each age category. Click below to read, watch and listen to the anthology!

About the Writing Contest

In 2021, Madison Public Library and Forward Madison FC teamed up to promote reading, literacy, and youth voices. Learn more about the partnership!

One way we're supporting literacy is by encouraging youth to share their voices! Madison Public Library, Forward Madison, and the Wisconsin Book Festival partnered to create the We Read: Youth Voices writer’s competition.

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. The theme for 2021 was Teamwork and we received 41 submissions that showed creative expressions of people coming together towards a common goal.

The contest was inspired in part by local tween athlete, Tikeh Tazeh who turned his energy towards writing during the pandemic. While he could not play soccer, he could capture the essential elements of the sport - teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance - in a middle grade novel, titled Hat Trickthat is an homage to the game. Tikeh is an inspiration to us at Madison Public Library, and we are excited to share his story, so that he may be an inspiration to you. 

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

The Prizes

Submissions for the contest are judged by a community panel of judges.

In 2021, three lucky winners:

  • Were celebrated at the October 30 Forward Madison game
  • Received a Forward Madison scarf and custom jersey
  • Were gifted a signed game ball from Forward Madison FC
  • Had their stories published in an anthology (soon to be) available in Madison Public Libraries across the city
  • Were featured at the Wisconsin Book Festival Fall Celebration.
  • Had 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 received a $500 scholarship, while the 2 runners up received $250 prizes. This is an investment in you, and we encourage youth and families to determine the best way to spend or save the funds. 

Submitting Your Story [Submissions are closed for 2021]

Stories, Poems, and Songs may be as short as you like -- who doesn’t love a simple haiku? -- but must not exceed the word limit for your age group. 

Authors should limit themselves to their single best piece for submission. 

Submissions can be in English, Spanish, or Hmong. If you would like to submit in a different language, please contact Rebecca Millerjohn at to ensure a translator for our judges can be acquired. 

Age Groups:

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