Six years ago, two friends dedicated to children’s literacy began a project to encourage local writers among students in years three to six. Students were invited to submit a story of about 500 words, and these were reviewed by panels of teachers and writers. A little later, the stories were returned to the schools for students to illustrate and submit their work for review by a panel of artists.
It was hugely successful and generated enormous enthusiasm among the teachers and students in the schools in the region. It became an annual event.
In 2020, I joined the team as one of the reviewers. Being an active publisher, having published over 100 books for myself and other writers, I suggested publishing the stories and illustrations that had been submitted. Some time later, I produced a beautiful book containing 64 stories and 33 illustrations.
The following year, we received the same number of stories but more than double the number of illustrations at 74. Clearly, we had touched something off!
In 2022, we received so many entries that we had to split them into the Manning and Great Lakes regions and publish a book for each. Between the two, we received 107 stories and 139 illustrations! My task as the publisher had grown massively!
This year, it has happened again, 287 stories and 225 illustrations and we had to split off a third book devoted to just two schools, Nabiac and Krambach Public Schools.
Throughout this wonderful process, we on the team have been continually delighted by the quality of entries, both written and artistic. Clearly, we have no shortage of creative talents in the region.
But the success has generated a major problem – staffing the project. When we receive stories, we strip off the identifying school and student names and issue the stories to panels of reviewers. They work in pairs, each receives ten stories and reviews them according to a well-defined set of criteria. Then they exchange their stories and repeat the process. The final grading of each story results from the combined reviews. The stories then go back to the schools and students are invited to select a story to illustrate. Similarly, a panel of judges reviews and grades the illustrations and then, with school and name back on the entry, they all go to me, the publisher, to assemble into the books. The covers are standard format, but the front contains a picture done by a student and selected by the judges, one picture for each region.
In August, we had awards days for the two regions, with Nabiac school going with the Great Lakes Region and Krambach School with the Manning Region. The atmosphere at these events was electric, parents and children showing huge excitement seeing their works in print. It is a wonderfully satisfying experience for those of us who helped create it.
It’s a massive amount of work and this year, our reviewers have all had to contend with a far greater workload than in previous years. In 2024, the probability is we’ll even more entries.
We need more reviewers!
Would you like to be part of this wonderful project next year? You might help set off a young person on a life-changing experience of becoming a writer or artist or enhancing their skills in any field of work.
If you are, or have been a teacher and/or an experienced writer of children’s fiction, we really could use your help. Artists who can help on the judging panel of the illustrations would also be invaluable. We are heavy users of Microsoft Word and Excel, so competence in both systems is essential.
If you would like to help, please go to our website
and contact us, or email us at
We’d love to hear from you.