Children First: A Writing Contest

Update: The contest is now closed. Thank you for your submissions. Submissions will not be individually acknowledged. The results will be announced on 4 March 2017.


Parag (a Tata Trust initiative), Vidya Sagar School, Chennai and Duckbill Books are delighted to announce a contest for authors who would like to write stories featuring children with disabilities.

Children with physical or emotional challenges or with learning difficulties feature in very few books for children in India. And when they do, they are not always portrayed with sensitivity. It is important that writers and illustrators recognise that these children are children first. They can be mischievous, stubborn, playful, happy, needy … just like any other children.

We need more stories for and about these children, written and illustrated with sensitivity and empathy. We therefore welcome manuscripts that feature children with special needs.

Submission guidelines:

Authors can submit manuscripts for any of these formats:

Picture books (for ages 3 to 6; between 250 and 1000 words)
Please send text only. The visuals may be described briefly, in order to clarify the meaning of the text.

Illustrated books (for ages 5 to 7, between 1500 and 3000 words)
Please send text only.

Chapter books (for ages 6 to 10, between 4000 and 10,000 words).

The manuscripts need to be in English or translated into English.

This contest is for fiction only.

Authors can submit multiple entries.

The prize:

The three best manuscripts will be awarded citations and books from Duckbill Books. In addition, they will be given detailed feedback by the editors of Duckbill books. They will also be considered by Duckbill Books for possible publication. Please note that the process of feedback will not necessarily ensure publication, and the decision of the publishers in this regard will be final.

The event: Children First

On November 5, in Chennai, Vidya Sagar school hosts a panel discussion with authors who have written books whose protagonists are children with disabilities, and educators and publishers who have made books accessible to children with disabilities. For contestants in Chennai, this discussion will provide valuable inputs in writing their book. For the others, Duckbill will put up on their blog and FB page a detailed summary of the proceedings, focussing on the relevant parts of the discussion.

For details:

The contest will be formally declared open on November 5, 2016 at this event.

The deadline:

Manuscripts will be accepted until midnight of December 10, 2016.

Mailing address:

Soft copies of the manuscripts should be mailed to, with the subject line: Submission for Children First.



  1. Am I supposed to write a single short story in about 4000-10,000 words or am I supposed to write it like a book , dividing it into chapters ?

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