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NEA Big Read

National Teen Storyteller Contest: Criminal Justice


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Submissions Accepted May 1 to May 25, 2021

We’re once again partnering with The Decameron Project for a National Teen Storyteller Contest! Young writers, ages 13-18, are encouraged to submit their best work on the theme of Criminal Justice for a chance to win up to $100 for our bookstore, as well as online publication. This contest is part of our NEA Big Read initiative in celebration of Ernest J. Gaines’ classic novel A Lesson Before Dying. We invite entries to respond to the themes of the criminal justice system in the novel or to interpret the subject more broadly. The stories should be between 300-1000 words.

The three winning stories will be published on The Center for Fiction and Decameron Project websites.

  • The first-place winner will receive a $100 bookstore gift certificate and a CFF tote bag.
  • The second-place winner will receive $50 bookstore gift certificate and a CFF tote bag.
  • The third-place winner will receive a $25 bookstore gift certificate and a CFF tote bag.

Final decisions regarding winners and finalists will be made by The Center for Fiction staff. The Center for Fiction reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entries that do not follow the contest rules or contain lewd, obscene, defamatory, or hateful content.

The Center for Fiction’s Big Read initiative, running from March to June 2021, includes free online reading discussion groups, workshops for young writers, flash fiction writing contest for teens, and public events with authors and scholars. This initiative is made possible through a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


About Our Partner

We are thrilled to partner with The Decameron Project once again. The student-run NYC-based nonprofit aims to empower students to express themselves creatively and share their stories amidst school closures and other hardships posed by COVID-19.

  • The Decameron Project