My friend and fellow Virginia homeschooler, Shez (of Homeschooled Twins) recently announced a homeschool writers contest:

Lydia Netzer and I  are happy to announce a new writing competition for homeschoolers:  The Book Arts Bash.

You’ve heard of “Summer Reading Programs”? Now there is a “Summer Writing Program” for homeschooling families. Write your book, create your story, draw your comic, bust out your illustrations! Send us your work, and get your manuscript read by our judges: bestselling authors and industry professionals. Imagine having the opportunity to have your work critiqued by a New York agent or editor. Imagine having one of your favorite writers, or your kids' favorite authors, reading your work! Who knows -- will this be the start of a beautiful career?

With twenty categories to choose from, invite your children to stretch their creativity: picture books, short stories, memoirs, comics, poetry, novels, ABC books, pop-ups, fractured fairy tales and more! If you've written something that looks like a book, you'll find a category at the Book Arts Bash. We welcome everyone to participate, with five age groups from homeschooled preschoolers to homeschooling grandmas. Our youngest writers and illustrators will all receive recognition and prizes, while our older kids and adults will vie for a spot in our finalist gallery and encouraging critiques from our judges.

We doubt there'll be a reluctant writer around who would be able to resist the allure of becoming a paper engineer and making his/her own pop-up book. What about taking photographs to illustrate a personal essay? Check out our storytelling categories, and send us an audio file. Many of the categories allow the children to express themselves through writing and art. What better combination can there be? For the children who are not fans of fiction, there is ample scope to write on non-fiction topics. History picture book? Science comic? A living math or science book? Bring it on.

The Book Arts Bash is an exciting opportunity for homeschoolers to use writing and art to truly integrate subjects across the curriculum. Are your children studying Ancient Sumeria? Here's an opportunity for your children to write a host of books on the subject. Think about it, your children could write a fable set in ancient Sumeria, a living book about the lives of children in ancient Sumeria, another living book on mathematics and/or science in ancient Sumeria, a Sumerian Cinderella or even a pop-up book demonstrating cuneiform.

Perhaps your child is in love with arachnids. The opportunities abound for your child to write about these 8 legged creatures. She could write a poem about the spider, take photographs of spiders and write a non-fiction book about spiders or use her imagination and write a living book about spiders. Just imagine the opportunities for terrorizing squeamish siblings if she made a pop-up book about arachnids.

For me, one of the more exciting aspects of this competition, is the judging process. The 3 finalists in each category will have their work read by leaders in their fields, be they authors, editors or agents. I harbor a not so secret wish that this competition will see the start of new writing careers for more homeschoolers.

Good luck!

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