John Boyne, an Irish author best known for writing The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas, has already been trying to help alleviate children’s boredom from currently having to stay inside by offering hour-long Q&A sessions for kids to talk about books. Now, he’s announced he has also launched a short-story competition for kids to give them something exciting to do during this difficult time.
“I was thinking about the fact that so many kids are off school at the moment; they’re isolated and at home, and they’re trying to think of something to do. There’s a lot of creativity going on with Irish children in schools,” John Boyne explained on Liveline, on RTÉ Radio 1.
John Boyne launched the short-story competition for children to enter now that Ireland’s schools have closed and children need activities to keep them busy. The competition is broken into three age categories; six to ten, 11 to 14, and 15 to 18 and calls for them to write 300-words.
“We’re asking children to write a 300-word short story. Three hundred words is very difficult: it’s so short you’ve really got to think about every single word that goes into it,” said Boyne.
There will be an overall winner for each of the three categories who will win a €200 book token, while there will also be five winners of €100 and 10 winners of €50. The total prize fund originally stood at € 3,600, but thanks to the generosity of National Book Tokens, who offered to double the fund, it now stands at a staggeringly generous € 7,200. The book tokens cards and envelopes are going to be supplied by Irish independent bookstore, The Gutter Bookshop, however they are National Book Tokens and can be used anywhere in Ireland.
The competition is open until Wednesday the 25th March at 5pm and John Boyne has already received hundreds of applications. Luckily, he’s enlisted a fantastic group of Irish writers to help him with the judging including; Alex Barclay, Anne Enright, Anne Griffin, Cecelia Ahern, Claire Kilroy, Dermot Bolger, Donal Ryan, Eoin Colfer, Helen Cullen, John Boyne, Kevin Power, Louise O’Neill, Paul Murray, Roddy Doyle and Sarah Webb.
John Boyne hopes that the short-story competition will “help foster creativity among Irish children and teenagers during this current crisis,” and all stories can potentially be shared over the radio on RTE’s Liveline by Joe Duffy.
To enter, children simply need to write a short of no more than 300 words and send it, along with their name, email address, phone number, postal address and age to [email protected] before the deadline. For full details and further information, please visit John Boyne’s website.