The WHSmith Ultimate Writing Challenge

Entries close 13 Nov 2020
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To celebrate 15 years of the WHSmith Trust, WHSmith and the National Literacy Trust working together to bring exciting children's reading programmes to schools in the UK, we are launching a brand new and exclusive competition: The WHSmith Ultimate Writing Challenge!

Three inspirational writers have each set a challenge for your class to try. There are three very different challenges for pupils to choose from. They're invited to pick which one excites them most. Please ensure you send us your school's entries by 13th November 2020 (this is a revised deadline due to recent school closures).

Exciting prizes are up for grabs for the best entries, including signed books and WHSmith vouchers to spend on new books and stationery.

What's more the overall winner's school will receive £300 to spend in WHSmith. Plus, the individual challenge winners will also receive £100 for their school to spend in WHSmith.

This competition is open exclusively to schools like yours who have participated in projects run by the National Literacy Trust and WHSmith over the last 15 years and open to entrants aged 7 to 11.

Writing challenges and supporting materials

Your pupils can choose which of these three challenges they would like to complete. They will need to write up to a maximum of 2 sides for their chosen challenge and we want them to to be as creative, original and imaginative as possible!

For each challenge a short video explanation is available to download from the writers who have set these exciting challenges.

You can also download the competition entry worksheet to print and give out to your pupils.

Challenge 1: A letter from space

Author Hilary Robinson challenges your children to write a letter from space to someone back at home about your out-of-this-world experiences, inspired by her latest book Jasper: Space Dog.

Watch Hilary Robinson and illustrator Lewis James describe the letter writing challenge:

Challenge 2: A poem about a special place

Poet Karl Nova challenges your children to write a poem about a place that’s really special to you, inspired by his poem The City of My Birth, in his award-winning book Rhythm and Poetry.

Watch Karl Nova explain his poetry challenge:

Plus, you can see Karl performing his poem, 'The City of My birth', here:

Challenge 3: A story about a dragon

Author and illustrator Steve Antony challenges your children to write a story about a dragon, inspired by a picture from his latest book Amazing.

Watch Steve Antony talk through his story writing challenge:

What's more, you can also find a copy of the image which inspired his challenge in our resources for this competition.

What are the prizes?

There are only 100 schools eligible for this competition, so everyone is in with a great chance to win these fab prizes!

The overall winner of the competition will receive:

  • a £70 voucher to spend in WHSmith
  • a WHSmith goody bag (worth £30), plus books by the participating authors
  • £300 for their school to spend in WHSmith on books and stationery

Our panel of judges will also choose winners for each challenge, who will receive £30 to spend in WHSmith, a WHSmith goody bag, and £100 for their school to spend in WHSmith. Plus, ten runners-up will be selected, each of whom will receive £10 to spend in the store.

Winners will be judged on their creativity, originality and use of language.

How to enter

This competition is completely free to enter. It is open exclusively to all UK schools who have participated in a National Literacy Trust project with WHSmith and the WHSmith Trust at some point over the last 15 years!

Entries are invited from pupils aged 7 to 11 (Key Stage 2 or P4 to P7 in Scotland).

To enter, you must download the competition entry from from the bar on the right hand side of this page and fill in the details for your school. Each child's piece of writing must have a first name, class, and an entry number (i.e. if there's 30 children in the class, number the children's entries 1 to 30) on it, which you must also enter into the competition entry form.

You must then email your entries to You can do this by scanning your entries, or by taking a photo of them using your mobile phone. (Please note that posted entries will no longer reach us).

If you have any questions about the competition please email Nick Oram on

Register your interest

If you have a National Literacy Trust account (either free or premium) then you can register your interest below to receive key competition updates.

If you don't currently have an account, you can sign up to a free membership by clicking on 'start your membership' below and will then be able to register your interest for the competition. It takes just two minutes!

(Please note that it is not mandatory to register your interest or to be a member to enter the competition - simply download the resources and begin).

Want to enter this competition? Login or start your membership