Once again, the Young Country Diary series is open for submissions! Every three months, as the UK enters a new season, we ask you to send us a piece written by a child aged 8-14.
The article needs to be about a recent encounter they’ve had with nature – whether it’s a woodland walk, some nesting birds or a thriving rockpool.
Crucially, it doesn’t matter if the child is a nature expert or has never picked up a pair of binoculars. We are especially keen to reach teachers who might like to get their class outside and noticing nature.
Please note the deadline for entry is noon on Monday 1 April.
Six winning entries will be chosen, and published in the Guardian newspaper and online – two on 23 March, two on 27 April and two on 25 May. On 1 June we’ll launch a fresh callout looking for summer pieces.
Note that if you send your piece in early enough, you stand a chance of being published on 23 March.
How your child can take part
First of all, we’re looking for children age 8 to 14, so we will need your permission, as parent or guardian. Then here’s what the child needs to do:
Step 1 – Go out one day to where there is some nature. It could be their local woods or beach, their garden, a farm, or simply the nearest park.
Step 2 – Write an article of 200-250 words telling us what they saw and what happened.
Step 3 – Send the article to us using the form below. We ask that you fill in the form yourself rather than the child.
Photos/drawings – These are helpful (especially landscape rather than portrait) but they are not a condition of entry. If you have some, please tell us in the “more information” field, as there’s no way to attach them to the form.
Hints and tips for any budding YCD writers
If the child gets stuck and doesn’t know what to write about, here are a few pointers:
Good nature writing starts with the senses – so what did you see and hear? What about smell and touch? Take notes when you’re out and about so you don’t forget
How would you describe what happened? Did it remind you of anything?
It’s great to look up some extra information about what you saw, and tell us about that too. For example, if you find an interesting-looking bug, see if you can find out what type of butterfly it was, how long they live – any juicy titbits!
You can think big, and describe the whole scene – the sky, the horizon, the landscape. Or you can think small, and tell us some details about the butterfly’s wings or the beetle’s markings.
What did your encounter with nature make you think about? How did it make you feel?
The deadline for entry is noon on Monday 1 April. Anyone can enter their child who is aged between 8 and 14 and based in the UK. You the parent/guardian will be contacted if your child’s piece is selected for publication, and you will be paid on behalf of the child.
Good luck, everyone!
Paul Fleckney, editor of Young Country Diary and Country Diary
We ask that the parent/guardian fills in the form below, rather than your child. Your responses are secure as the form is encrypted and only the Guardian has access to your contributions. One of our journalists will be in contact with you, as parent or guardian, before we publish, so please do leave contact details.