December 4, 2022

New York Times Contest Lures Students into Reading Nonfiction

Trying to entice students to read more nonfiction this summer? The Learning Network, an educational site of the New York Times, has come to the rescue again with its Third Annual Summer Reading Contest, where readers ages 13 to 25 can submit their blog posts for possible inclusion on the site.

The contest encourages students to compose 350-word entries about a Times’ article, essay, editorial or a photo that caught their attention and why, according to the site.

Katherine Schulten

“The emphasis on nonfiction isn’t an accident,” says Katherine Schulten, an editor at the Learning Network, via email. “Teachers all over the U. S. are scrambling to think of ways to add more of what the Common Core (CC) calls “informational text” to the curriculum since, by senior year in high school students are, according to the CC, supposed to be reading 30 percent fiction and 70 percent nonfiction across the curriculum.”

Schulten says school librarians can use the contest as an opportunity to not only increase student consumption of nonfiction but also broaden summer reading lists. Plus, the contest gives kids “a chance to practice writing and posting comments,” she says.

Last year, winning posts covered wide-ranging topics, from counterfeit purses to MayaJ’s opinion on consuming invasive species at the dinner table.

Although the contest launches June 15, the Learning Network announced the details early so schools that start their summer break in May could have a heads up. The contest will run for nine weeks this year, ending on August 17. At least one winning submission will be featured each week on the Learning Network site and broadcast via Twitter and Facebook. Teachers and librarians can follow their students by having them submit entries with a code attached to their names.

Beyond the inherent learning experience, the contest offers students a chance to become a published writer. Not a bad way to start the school year.


Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at


  1. Please let me know if High School of Fashion Industries subscription is working yet. There was some lost communication but I would like to push this our to our 9th graders as a summer reading assignment. This hasn’t been working and when I tried to fix it I got the run around…. Please let me know asap. Thanks
    classroom username: 100320217
    classroom password: 100320217