500 Words is the world’s largest story-writing competition for kids. Over a million stories have been submitted since 2011, in response to everything from technology to climate change. Now, we want to bring children’s voices onto the themes and issues emerging from the Black Lives Matter movement. We want children to lead on the process of writing their story.

From 6.30am on Monday 29th June until Friday 3rd July at 11.59pm 2020, we invite children aged between 5 and 13 to respond in whatever way they wish in no more than 500 words, in the form of a story.

The narratives we write and share matter. We ask children to draw on their own experiences and feelings to create a story that can be as imaginative and visionary as they want. Storytelling is a must!

For that reason, we’ve brought together many high-profile personalities, school teachers and librarians alongside the continuing support and academic expertise of Oxford University Press to create 500 Words: Black Lives Matter.

Just tune into Virgin Radio Breakfast Show from today to keep up with the competition.

Prizes & Live Readings

From the 13th – 16th July, four semi-finalists in each age group will be chosen from the stories we receive. The judges will then determine who becomes the two finalists and the eventual winner of the final on Friday 17th July.

The finalists will be invited to attend an exciting day of events with our special guests, starting out at the Virgin Radio Breakfast show with many special surprises to follow (as soon as government guidelines permit this).

The words of many stories will be read out on air by special guests throughout the competition; some entries may be turned into podcasts read out by special guests. We may publish 100 stories as a book.

The Difference We Hope To Make

500 Words celebrated its 10th anniversary during its 2020 Final on Friday 12th June.

Hot on its heels, the new competition issues a brief intended to encourage important conversations at home, at school and across the nation, on the themes and issues emerging from the Black Lives Matter movements around the world. The initiative encourages children to tap into their own creativity and imagination, using storytelling to share their experience and understanding of how different ethnicities and cultures interact.

The difference we hope to make:

  • To raise awareness of Black Lives Matter through the collation and sharing of original stories written by the youngest in our society, supported in the framework of 500 Words.
  • OUP are children’s language experts. Every year, OUP and 500 Words conduct academic research into the location and number of entries we receive. 500 Words will continue research into the demographics of entrants and what this means going forward for opportunities for BAME and all children together.