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Katherine Paterson Prize

What is the Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing?

An annual prize for Young Adult and Children’s Literature. A chance for your YA and Children’s Lit to be read by Hunger Mountain editors and guest judges!

What will the winner receive?

One overall first place winner receives $1,000 and publication.
Three category winners receive $100 each and publication. The categories are:

  • Young Adult (YA)
  • Middle Grade (MG)
  • Picture Book or Writing for Young Children

Who can enter the contest?

Any writer – residing in any country or U.S. state – is eligible to enter; Hunger Mountain and VCFA staff and currently enrolled students are ineligible.

Who is this year’s judge?

The 2017 judge is Cynthia Leitich Smith.

When is the deadline?

The The extended deadline for 2017 is March 8, for both electronic and snail mail entries.

Where is last year’s winning entry?

Last year’s first place winner, “Oprah, Maslow, and Me” by Amy Emm, along with the three category winners, Sandra Nickel’s “A Proud Family of Sneezers” (picture book), Joe Baillargeon’s “The Gifts of Ratoncito Pérez” (Middle Grade), and Val Howlett’s “The Angel Age” (YA) will be published in our upcoming 2016 online prizewinner issue.

“Isadora’s Sandalias” by Robin Heald, along with the first place winner in the Young Adult Category, appears in Hunger Mountain 19: the BODY issue. You can read “Covered up Their Names” by Jackie Lea Sommers, the 2013 grand prize winner, and “The Bus” by Maggie Lehrman, the 2013 YA category winner, and “The Mapmaker’s Boy” by Christina Soontornvat, the 2013 Middle Grade category winner in Hunger Mountain 18.

“Crabcake Charlie” by Sally Derby, the 2012 winner, appears in Hunger Mountain 17: Labyrinths.

All prize winners from the past several years also appear in our ONLINE Prizewinner Issue.

Does Hunger Mountain accept electronic entries?

Yes! We use Submittable. Please enter your original, unpublished piece under 10,000 words. Your entry may be a short story or a novel excerpt, but if it’s a novel excerpt it should really stand alone. Feel free to include a brief synopsis if your entry is a novel excerpt. Your name and address should NOT appear on the story; we read contest entries blind. Click the link below to access our online submission system. Once in the submission manager, you’ll need to choose “Katherine Paterson Prize” (scroll all the way to the bottom to find it). Pay the $20.00 entry fee and upload your entry. Please include a cover letter in the comments section, letting us know what age group your piece is intended for.


Click here to enter the Katherine Paterson Prize.

Does Hunger Mountain still accept Snail Mail entries?

Yes! Please send one original, unpublished piece under 10,000 words. Your entry may be a short story or a novel excerpt, but if it’s a novel excerpt it should stand on its own. Feel free to include a brief synopsis along with your novel excerpt. Include a $20 entry fee. Make checks payable to “Vermont College of Fine Arts.” Entries should be postmarked by March 1. Your name or address should NOT appear anywhere on the story itself (we read entries blind.) Instead, enclose an index card with story title, intended age group, your name, address, phone number, and email address. You may also enclose an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope)  for notification of winners. Entries should be typed, and on one side of the paper only. No staples please! Send entries to:

Hunger Mountain
Vermont College of Fine Arts
36 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602

May I include illustrations with my Picture Book manuscript?

Yes. We do accept (but we don’t require) illustrations along with picture book manuscripts. These should be copies/pdfs only. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ORIGINAL ART! We’ll consider illustrated and text-only picture book entries.

If you submit by mail, send copies of art only. If you submit through Submittable, your illustrated entry should be a pdf.

Will my entry be considered for general publication as well as for the Katherine Paterson Prize?

Yes, it will. Several stories we publish have come from the Katherine Paterson Prize entries.

May I enter more than one story in this prize?

Yes. Enter as many as you like! But each entry needs its own entry fee.

Are simultaneous submissions okay?

Yes,  but please let us know right away if your work is accepted elsewhere. And, unfortunately, we can’t refund entry fees if the work is accepted somewhere else.

I’m a child or a teenager. May I enter this prize?

You may. But your work will be evaluated alongside adult work. If you’re a serious writer, it’s okay with us if you enter the prize, just know this prize isn’t intended for teenagers or for children.

May I enter work that has already been published?

No. We will accept original, unpublished work for this contest.

What if I have questions that aren’t answered here?

Email us at

CLICK HERE to Enter the Katherine Paterson Prize.

Thanks for entering the contest, and good luck!