Check out the winners of the 2021 PBS Kids Writers Contest

Looking to give your kids a little creative inspiration? Check out the winning stories from the 12th-annual 2021 PBS Kids Writers Contest.

These stories, written and illustrated by kids, are worthy of acclaim for their storytelling skills, charming drawings and imaginative ideas. Click on each title and hear the writers read their stories as the storybook flips page by page. It’s a great way to get kids started on their own storytelling.

For the contest, kids in grades K-5 were invited to write an original story and produce at least five corresponding illustrations, including collages, photographs or other media. Judging was calculated by giving 40 percent for the originality of plot, 40 percent for story structure, and 20 percent for relevance and quality of the illustration.

Partnering with WQED on the Writers Contest this year were West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB), PBS 39 (WLVT) serving eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, and WPSU in State College.

In all, 27 stories were chosen as finalists from almost 700 received from throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware and across the country. Four stories in each grade level received awards. Two more stories with STEM lessons – like “Artificial Intelligence: Our Future” and “My Sunshine Friend” – won awards, too.

Some stories rock with Hollywood-level adventure, like “Super Cat Vs. the Cloud of Doom,” “Rocco’s Tacos” and “K-Man Spreads Kindness.”

Math lessons are part of the plots in “Even Vs. Odd” and “Penny is Hungry for a Pizza.”

The idea behind the effort is to promote children’s literacy skills through hands-on activities. There are lots of resources on the WQED website to continue to encourage kids to write stories. Download cool activity sheets and graphic organizers for extra fun.

But why wait for next year’s contest? Read or listen to the winning stories with your kids as a jumping point for their own storytelling.

This story, “The Smallest Star,” won First Place in the first-grade category.