Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF)
The American Library in Paris is proud to be the organizer of the Young Authors Fiction Festival (YAFF). YAFF is free of charge and open to all students ages 5-18 in the greater Paris area who write in English. YAFF is the only creative writing initiative that aims to strengthen community among English-speakers in the Paris area through the art and craft of storytelling. The Library believes that creative writing plays an important role in a child’s literacy development. Creative writing is fun and a great tool to help broaden a child’s imagination and foster a life-long love of reading and writing.
The Young Authors Fiction Festival originated as The Red Wheelbarrow Writing Contest, which began in 2001 with l’Ecole Massillon and a handful of Paris-based members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), who acted as judges. YAFF is now a highlight of Library programming and the only English creative writing initiative for children in Paris. In 2020 YAFF had over 630 entries submitted from 50 schools and writing programs, and we hope that YAFF will continue to grow. The YAFF team consists of Library staff and volunteers and includes the involvement of over 100 judges from the Library’s community and beyond.
We encourage parents, teachers, educators, and schools to help nurture and develop a passion and practice for creative writing in children. The Library offers many resources for creative writing, including books, creative games, and writing workshops offered many times throughout the year. Together, and with YAFF, the Library hopes to raise and nurture the next generation of writers and authors!
The 2020 Young Authors Fiction Festival
YAFF 2020 received 630 entries, written by children from fifty schools and writing classes in and around Paris. We congratulate all who participated. The Library thanks the 106 judges who volunteered their time and enthusiasm, reading the stories and selecting the winners, as well as the YAFF 2020 committee, who took care of all of the details along the way. The YAFF 2020 committee included volunteers Lucy McCloskey, Martha Simmons, and Katherine Youngblood, as well as Library staff members Kirsty McCulloch Reid, Celeste Rhoads, and Morgan Wurzburger. Special thanks to Library director Audrey Chapuis for her support and guidance, to the Library staff who supported YAFF, and the parents and teachers who encouraged their children’s creative writing efforts.
The festival culminated with two virtual celebration events on Friday 12 June, hosted by the Library’s YAFF Team. The celebrations included the announcement of the winners (a full list can be found here), comments from the judges, and readings of one of the finalists’ stories per grade. Over 200 people attended on Zoom, including the young author finalists, parents, teachers, and Library volunteers who judged for the festival.
Two YAFF celebration booklets have been printed, with the full stories of the 1st – 5th place winners from kindergarten to 5th grades in the first booklet, and 6th– 12th grades in the second. The celebration booklets are available for 15€ each and can be ordered here. Each finalist for YAFF 2020 has been awarded a certificate and a personalised bookmark with a comment from a judge who read their story. The Library thanks Louise Damiano, who beautifully designed the bookmarks as well as the certificates and booklet covers.
The Library would also like to thank The British Council and The Roaming Schoolhouse, who both sponsored YAFF 2020.
Information about YAFF 2021 will be available on the Library website in January. Until then…happy writing!
YAFF 2020 Celebration Booklets
The Library publishes the 1st-5th place stories in a Celebration Book. One Booklet for Kindergarten -5th Grade and a separate booklet for 6th-12th Grade. These booklets are available for purchase, and a copy of each booklet will be available for checkout from the Library collection.
The booklets can be ordered here. Each booklet costs 15€.
There are two options for ordering:
Pick up at the Library during open hours. Payment will be made online before pick up.
Postal service. Payment will be made online for booklet(s) and a charge of 5€ applied for the postage. Postage is only available within Ile-de-France and books will be posted weekly on Fridays.
Confirmation of order, with information on pick up times and days or postal service, will be sent via email once payment has been received. Please allow 2 working days for confirmation to be sent.
If you have any questions about YAFF please contact yaff@americanlibraryinparis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Spread the word about the YAFF among students and staff at your school and encourage them to participate. Paper your school/institution, library or bookstore with the YAFF flyer and guidelines (YAFF 2021 details will be available January 2021). Please forward this events page to all other teachers you know for more details.
If you would like help to promote YAFF at your school please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a teacher and would like to support YAFF by judging for the festival please contact email@example.com for information.
For YAFF the guidlines are as follows:
Each participant may submit ONE (1) original story, written in English.
All stories must:
- Be within the world limits below:
- 750 words maximum for Kindergarten-5th Grade/Grande Section-CM2
- 1000 words maximum for 6th Grade-12th Grade/ 6ème-Terminale
- Be typed using 12 point Times New Roman or Arial font and double spaced
- Not include any handwritten work, illustrations, or colored text
- Not include the participant’s name anywhere in the document or file name
- Be saved in .DOC format (no PDFs accepted) with the story title as the file name.
Further guidelines for YAFF 2021 will be available in January 2021.
Stories that do not meet these criteria will not be entered into the Festival. The YAFF Submissions team will check stories before they are sent to the judges. If a story does not meet the guidelines, the author may be given time to make any necessary changes but only if there is ample time before the deadline. If there is no time to make changes the story will not be entered into the Festival.
You can download a PDF of these guidelines here.
The Young Authors Fiction Festival is absolutely free of charge to enter.
All qualifying entries must be submitted by the deadline or they cannot be entered into the festival. The YAFF 2021 deadline will be announced in January 2021.
All stories must be within the word count requirements. If you submit a story that contains more words, we will send it back for further editing so that it falls within the guidelines: maximum of 750 words for students in Kindergarden/Grande Section – 5th Grade/CM2 and maximum of 1000 words for students in 6th Grade/6ème – 12th Grade/Terminale.
No, only the body text count towards the word count.
Each submission to YAFF must be original: the participant must come up with the content and write the story on their own. Parents and teachers are encouraged to help only insofar as they create “teachable moments”, e.g., guiding young writers through revisions by asking questions instead of giving answers. For example, asking “can you express this idea in fewer words?” to help a child write more concisely or “we can look that word up in the dictionary” for spelling help. Fan-fiction or using another author’s characters or setting is not deemed as original work. Any stories not deemed as original work will not be eligible for top honors or publication. We require that all students pledge on their honor that their submission is their own original work.
Part of the objective of YAFF is to help young people develop new skills and a deeper understanding of the English language. We like to avoid, if at all possible, that parents or teachers correct the “mistakes” for the students. But neither do we want teachers/parents to have so light a touch that a potentially good story submission doesn’t make the grade due to issues that might easily have been improved upon, while teaching new skills at the same time.
We suggest that parents have young children write out their story, then type it up for them including any spelling or grammar mistakes. That way the story that is submitted is indeed the original work of the child.
Absolutely! Please make sure to submit each student’s story as a separate entry. For each student please complete the online submission form with the student’s and their parents’ contact information. Teacher’s cannot give permission for their students’ photos to be taken or their stories to be published; only parents have the authority to do this. Please keep this in mind when completing the submission form. If a teacher completes the form for a student we will contact the parent to ask for their permission so it is important we have their contact details. If we cannot get in touch with a parent to get permission we cannot publish a child’s story if they come 1st-5th Place in the festival.
When you complete the online submission form to enter the contest both the French and American Grades are listed and you chose the correct grade for the participant. The age of the participant is also asked for on the form just to ensure entry to the correct grade. If your child does not follow a French or American system, we encourage you to find the French/American grade equivalent so we can ensure their submission is entered into the appropriate category. If you need help with this please don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
When you submit your story via the online submission form you will recevie an email confirming your submission, with your name and story title and a submission number. This confirms you have been entered into the festival.
If your story does not meet the submission guidelines the YAFF team will send an email to ask for corrections to your story, if there is enough time before the deadline. Please ensure your story meets all the submission guidelines before you submit online. If you have any questions about your submission please contact email@example.com
Not at all. All stories are judged independently of entry information except for the title of the story and the age / grade of the author.
Why we ask for consent:
At the Celebration Event photos are taken of the winners to be used on the Library website announcing the Festival winners. If you do not give permission for your child’s (children’s) photo to be taken we will do our best to ensure their photo is not taken at the event and not published with the winners announcement.
1st – 5th Place winners in each grade become published authors with YAFF! The winning stories are published in a YAFF Celebration Booklet which is added to the Library collection and is available for purchase at the Celebration Event. The Library also publishes some of the winning stories on the Library website. If you do not give permission for your child’s story to be published, then if they come in 1st -5th place their story will not be included in the Celebration Booklet or published online.
Please keep this in mind when giving or withholding your permission for your child’s photo and story.
The goal of YAFF is to encourage and support children and young adults to complete a creative written project. The winning stories from 1st -5th from each grade are published in a YAFF Celebration Booklet by the Library. The Celebration Booklet is added to the Library collection and is available to purchase at the Celebration Event. This means that 1st-5th place winners of YAFF are published authors!
All participants of YAFF are invited to attend the Celebration Event where we honor all the writers and announce the winners of the YAFF.
YAFF culminates in a Celebration Event at the American Library in Paris in mid June.
At the Celebration Events we honor all participating authors and burgeoning storytellers as well as announce the winners from 1st -5th place in each grade. Finalists will be notified prior to the event, but all young authors are encouraged to attend this celebration of writing.
The YAFF Celebration Booklet with the 1st-5th Place stories published will be available for purchase at the event.
YAFF is free of charge to enter. To keep the YAFF free the Library relies on the support of many volunteers and donations.
Intern for YAFF with The American Library in Paris
We always need help to run YAFF and we are currently looking for an intern to join the YAFF 2020 team. For information about the internship on offer click here or please see the Library’s Internships page for further information about interning with the Library.
Volunteering on the YAFF committee or as a judge.
We are looking for judges for YAFF 2020!
In 2019 we had 94 volunteer judges to read the 841 submitted stories. We are extremely grateful to them for dedicating their free time to YAFF. The YAFF submission team is also made up of volunteers with a Library staff member coordinating YAFF.
If you are interested in supporting YAFF and would like to volunteer your time as a judge or member of the YAFF team please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your details, any experience you have with children and/or writing and why you would like to judge or help with the festival.
You can also support YAFF in other ways if you are unable to judge, so if you would like to contribute your time and talents please get in touch. We always need more judges and other help and to support YAFF.
Donating to the Library or Sponsoring YAFF
We are currently looking businesses or individuals who wish to support YAFF by monetary donation, becoming the sponsor for YAFF 2020, or by purchasing an advertisement in the YAFF Celebration Booklet.
In 2019 the British Council and the Roaming School House supported YAFF and the Library is grateful to them for ensuring the growth and success of YAFF 2019.
For further information about supporting YAFF 2020 please contact email@example.com
Previous Years: YAFF 2019 Information.
The 2019 Young Authors Fiction Festival was the Library’s biggest yet, with 841 submissions from 50 schools. The stories were judged in two rounds, over April and May and results were announced on 26 May 2019 to all participants, including the finalists.
The YAFF Celebration was held at the Library on Friday 14 June 2019 and 1st to 5th place winners were announced, with the winners receiving certificates and personalized bookmarks, with a comment from a judge who read their story. Pictures from the event can be viewed on the Library’s Flickr page and a full list of the 2019 winners here on the Library blog. The winning stories were published in two YAFF Celebration Booklets that were available for sale at the celebration and have also been added to the Library collection
The Library is grateful to the dedicated and enthusiastic YAFF committee who made YAFF 2019 a success. The Library’s Assistant Children’s and Teen’s Services Librarian Kirsty McCulloch Reid coordinated YAFF 2019, with volunteers Molly Belhiteche, Courtney Bowers, Brooke Burns, David Lawrence, Lucy McCloskey and Katherine Youngblood. Library staff members Celeste Rhoads, Pauline Lemasson and Morgan Wurzburger were also on the 2019 committee, and the committee extends their thanks to Library director Audrey Chapuis for her support and guidance.
The YAFF 2019 Committee would like to thank the 94 judges who volunteered their time and expertise to read the stories entered as well as the volunteers who helped at the YAFF Celebration. A special thank you goes to volunteers Amandine Doubre and Caitlin Scheske for their graphic design work for YAFF 2019.
The Library would like to thank the Roaming School House and the British Council for their support of YAFF 2019. Thank you to all the teachers, parents, and young authors for making this a great year for YAFF.
For a full list of all the 2019 YAFF winners, read the Library blog. or check out the 2019 YAFF Celebration Booklets from the Library collection. For more photos from the 2019 Celebration, and previous YAFF Celebrations, check out the Library’s Flickr page.
The Celebration Booklets from the 2013-2018 Young Authors Fiction Festivals are also available for check out from the Library collection.