These are general guidelines for the book categories in the Writing for Children Competition. The age range of the reader, the main character’s age, and the overall book length usually fall within these guidelines—although there can be exceptions. Both fiction and non-fiction entries are eligible for all of the categories in the Competition.
Picture Book (PB)
Age: 2-8 or Pre-K to Grade 3
Picture books are short (28 or 32 pages), are often read aloud to a child, and the text and illustrations work together to tell the story. However, don’t include illustrations with your PB entry—if illustrations will show what isn’t in the text, you can add a few short illustrator notes to explain. You don’t need to indicate page breaks in your text.
Middle Grade (MG)
Age: 8-12 or Grades 3 to 7
Book Word Count: 25,000-50,000 words (Chapter Books: 5,000-15,000 words)
Protagonists in MG books are generally the same age or slightly older than the reader. The stories focus on issues relevant to middle-grade kids, and the story can be read by the child on their own.
MG includes genres like fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, memoir, verse, etc.
The Competition includes chapter books in this category. Chapter books are for readers aged 7 to 9 beginning to read on their own, the stories are often about school and friendships. Books in this category may have spot illustrations, but don’t include illustrations with your entry.
Young Adult (YA)
Age: 12-14 or Grades 7 to 12
In a YA novel the main character is typically the same age or a little older than the reader, and usually not more than 18 years old. YA has more complex plots, character arcs, subplots and themes than MG. It includes genres like fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, memoir, verse, etc.