Writing Contest

Nebraska students in grades K-3 can show off their creative writing and illustrating skills by sending their original stories to NET. The contest is open from January 1, 2020 through April 24, 2020. First, second, and third place winners will be selected from each grade level. Winning authors will receive a special surprise from NET, and their stories will be featured on this web page.

For more information, see the official rules below, or contact kids@netnebraska.org.


2020 Official Rules

MANY WILL ENTER, FEW WILL WIN. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  The NET PBS KIDS Writers Contest is produced by NET (the “Contest” or “Promotion”) and based on the Reading Rainbow® Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, a concept developed by WNED.  The Contest begins on or about January 1st 2020 and ends with the announcement of winners on or about May 31st  2020. This Contest consists of one round of local judging. To enter the Contest you may submit your Entry by mail to NET, Attn: Writers Contest, 1800 N 33rd St., Lincoln, NE 68503 OR by e-mail to kids@netnebraska.org (subject line “Writers Contest 2020”). All entries to the Independent Pool must be postmarked by April 24, 2020 and received by April 30, 2020 to be eligible. Contact NET for other exact local judging deadlines. These Contest rules are subject to modification by NET at its discretion. This Contest is void where prohibited.  Sponsored and coordinated by NET (“Sponsor” or “PBS”) located at 1800 N 33rd St., Lincoln, NE 68503

Eligibility & Entry Guidelines

  • Entrants must be children in kindergarten-third grade. Entries will be organized into grade levels.
  • Children of employees of NET, sales representatives, subsidiaries or parent companies, advertising/sales promotion agencies, and judges are not eligible.
  • To be eligible, an entrant must be a resident of the state of Nebraska.  Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify ineligible entries; such entries will not be returned.
  • Only one entry per person will be accepted in this Contest; all subsequent entries will be disqualified.
  • Only single author stories qualify (no co-authored stories). 
  • Stories can be fact or fiction, and prose or poetry.
  • Any failure to adhere to these Contest Rules may result in disqualification from the Contest.
  • No purchase is necessary. Many will enter, few will win.

Word Count Requirement

  • Kindergarten and first grade stories must have a minimum of 50 words and a maximum of 200 words.
  • Second and third grade stories must have a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 350 words.
  • The word count includes “a,” “an,” and “the,” but not the words on non-story pages such as the title page or those that enhance the illustrations.
  • Text must be printed or written legibly or typed.
  • Children who cannot write may dictate their story to be printed, written legibly or typed.
  • Text may be integrated into the illustration pages or on separate pages.
  • Non-English text must be translated on the same page and the translated text (English text) must adhere to word count.
  • Invented spelling is accepted.

Format & Illustrations

  • Stories must have at least 5 original, clear and colorful illustrations.
  • Original art can include drawings, collages, and 3-D created by the author or photographs taken by the author.
  • Stories submitted by mail must be created on one side of the paper and numbered on the back of each page.
  • Stories should be created on pages no larger than 8.5x11 inches. Stories can be oriented either landscape or portrait.

Official Entry Form

  • Each entry must include the official NET PBS KIDS Writers Contest Entry Form, with the required signature of a parent/guardian (and, if appropriate, the optional signature of the sponsoring teacher), consenting to allowing their child/ward to enter the Contest, confirming that the story and art are original, and granting certain rights to the entry materials.
  • Official entry form must be attached for submission by mail or by e-mail.
  • The entry form must be complete and legible to be eligible.

Judging, Awards & Notification

All entries submitted to the Contest will be judged using the judging criteria and percentages below by a panel of no fewer than 3 judges selected and coordinated by NET. Judging will occur on or about April 2020. The judging criteria and percentages shall be scored and graded using a rubric based on the following criteria as follows:

  • 20% Theme
  • 20% Plot
  • 20% Character
  • 20% Writing Style
  • 20% Illustrations

All decisions of the judges are final and binding and not subject to appeal or review. Winners will be as follows: (1) the entry with the highest score from among all eligible entries received per grade will be deemed the First Place winners; (2) the entry the second to the highest score from among all eligible entries received per grade will be deemed the Second Place winners (3) the entry with the third to the highest score from among all eligible entries received per grade will be deemed the Third Place winners. In the event of a tie, the entry with the highest score in the creativity and originality category from among all tying entries will be deemed the winner from among all tying entries. Winners will be notified on or before May 31, 2020. 


Four (4) First Place Winners (One (1) First Place Winner per Grade)

Four (4) Second Place Winners (One (1) Second Place winner per grade).

Four (4) Third Place Winners (One (1) Third Place winner per grade). 

NET reserves the right to substitute any prize for a prize of equal or greater value, at the sole discretion of NET.  Potential winners will be notified by Sponsor on or about May 2020 for winner verification.  Prize recipients must allow a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks from notification to delivery.  Prizes are not redeemable for cash, non-transferable, and non-substitutable, except at the sole discretion of Sponsor.

Return of Entries

The Contest administrators will make every effort, but are not required, to return mailed entries only if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope of an appropriate size. NET is not responsible for late, lost, stolen, misdirected, damaged, mutilated, incomplete, returned, or illegible entries, or postage-due mail. 

Rights Associated with Contest

Submission of the Entry Form constitutes permission from the participant’s parent/legal guardian for NET and PBS/WNED to use the participants’ name, likeness, biographical information, information and materials contained in the Entry Form, photographs, and any statements or remarks made about the Contest in advertising and promotion without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.  All entries, and any copyrights therein, become the sole property of NET and PBS/ WNED.  By entering, entrants’ parent/legal guardian agree to abide by the above stated rules, and warrant that their child’s/ward’s entry is their original work and does not infringe upon or violate rights of any third party, and grant to NET and PBS/WNED the right to edit, publish, promote, and otherwise use their entry materials without permission, notice or compensation.  No royalties will be paid at this or any time. By submitting an entry and Entry Form, each participant’s parent/legal guardian, on behalf of the participant, agrees to assign all right, title, and interest in and to the entry and Entry Form to NET and PBS/WNED and warrants that the participant’s parent/legal guardian has the authority to assign such right, title, and interest. In the event that any applicable law requires certain formalities to be fulfilled to effectuate such grant of rights, each participant (and parent or guardian) agrees to cooperate with NET and/or PBS/WNED to achieve fulfillment of such formalities. By submitting an Entry Form, each participant’s parent/legal guardian, on behalf of participant, agrees to be bound by these Contest Rules.  Each participant’s parent/legal guardian, on behalf of the participant, agrees to release and hold NET and PBS/WNED, and its employees, officers, directors, shareholders, agents, representatives, subsidiaries, parent companies, or other affiliated companies harmless from any and all damages, losses, claims and liabilities arising out of participation in the Contest or resulting from acceptance or claiming of any prize hereunder.  NET and PBS/WNED reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate, suspend or otherwise cancel the Contest at any time.  Income and all other taxes are the responsibility of the prize recipient.  NET and PBS/WNED are not responsible for any expenses incurred in connection with participation in the Contest.

Privacy:  Unless otherwise specified, any and all information connected in connection with this Contest will be used by Sponsor solely for the purpose of administering the Contest. Please note: If you circled “Yes” on the Entry Form to opt-in to receive the Optional promotional materials, Sponsor may share your contact information contained in the Entry Form with Contest promotional partners, or their agents, to fulfill the offers.  To understand how NET uses, stores, manages and discards private information, visit the NET privacy policy at http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/other/privacy-statement.   To understand how PBS uses, stores, manages, and discards private information, visit the PBS privacy policy at: http://www.pbs.org/about/policies/privacy-policy/.