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Banner for RGS Guildford Dubai Children's Letter Writing Competition which shows two pairs of child's hands writing letters. There are extra envelopes and a notepad with a sketch.

RGS Guildford Dubai Children’s Letter Writing Competition

Dear Reader,

Have you ever received a letter where the dotted ‘i’s make your stomach flutter? Perhaps the confident swagger of your tall ‘t’ made someone sit up and take note?

The key to a good letter is not only in the words and tone you use. It is also in the penmanship, the choice of paper, and most of all, the feeling it evokes in its recipient.

That is the power of a handwritten letter. But in the age of text messages, emails and social media, we are in danger of losing this art.

The RGS Guildford Dubai Children’s Letter Writing Competition is here to bring some of that forgotten magic back into our world. The competition celebrates both the aesthetic of handwriting and a well-crafted message. It is your chance to show off your letter-writing skills and become one of our 2024 winners!

Registration opens on 12 June 2023, so get your pens ready!

All the best,
The Education Team, Emirates Literature Foundation

The Competition

The theme for 2024 is ‘Beginnings’.

‘Beginnings’ are very meaningful in life. We cannot start new life adventures unless we take that first step and begin!

‘Beginnings’ are also very important for books and stories. They set the scene for what is to come and hooks the readers in. They invite the readers to stay and read till the end – making the ‘beginning’ count is crucial for an author.

To enter the RGS Guildford Dubai Children’s Letter Writing Competition this year, we would like you to write a letter to an author suggesting an alternative ‘beginning’ to their already published story/book.

The competition is divided into the following categories:

  • Ages: 8-10
  • Ages: 11-13
  • Ages: 14-18


Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition
There are exciting prizes to be won!

All first-place winners will have an opportunity to meet an acclaimed international author participating in Emirates LitFest 2024.

All winners will also receive:

  • Invite to a LitFest session
  • Book vouchers

Winners will be informed of their success via email and will be publicly announced and awarded at the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, held each year in February.

Winners of the 2024 Competition

How the Competition Works

  • The letter must be on a single side of an A4 sheet of paper, using your best handwriting.
  • Write a letter to an author, suggesting an alternative ‘beginning’ to their story/book. Tell them why you want to change the original ‘beginning’ and why the new one would work better, in your opinion.
  • The recommended word limit is 200-400 words max.
  • Entries should be handwritten using a fountain pen or any other type of ink pen, such as a rollerball or ball point pen. No other mediums (such as pencils or coloured pencils) should be used.
  • Doodles, drawings, border designs and simple artwork are permitted provided they do not affect or cover up the content of the letter.
  • Letters must be scanned clearly, the right way up using a printer/scanner or phone scanner – no photos.
  • Complete all sections of the online entry form, attaching your scanned handwritten letter in PDF format.
  • Entries can be in Arabic or English. To submit your letter in Arabic, please click here.
  • You should submit under the appropriate age category (Ages: 8-10, 11-13, 14-18), which relates to your age in accordance with the competition deadline.
  • The deadline to submit your letter is 11 December 2023.

Here are some tips on writing a powerful letter.

A handwritten letter is a lot more personal than its digital counterpart. Handwriting, the choice of pen and ink create a unique visual combination.

Top tips for writing a winning letter


1. Think about what pen to use. We love fountain pens, but you can use any ink pen that suits you.

2. Consider your choice of ink and paper. We recommend keeping it simple by using blue or black ink on white paper, but beautiful ink comes in many colours and can create a strong and distinctive tone.

3. Handwritten letters usually look best on plain white paper, but some people may find it easier to write on lined paper.

4. The word limit for the competition is 200 words. Don’t feel like you have to use them all up or fill every blank space on the page. Remember that sometimes less is more.

5. Write carefully in your best handwriting.

6. Using traditional, italic and calligraphic styles can give a nice look, but make sure the writing is easily legible. If the script is too elaborate, it can be difficult for the judges to read.

7. Feel free to be creative with your handwriting. If you would like to put in a small illustration, thought bubble, or an arrow pointing to another piece of text, you can. But remember: this is a letter-writing competition, not an art, calligraphy or drawing competition!


1. Think carefully about what you want to convey. Be brief and to the point.
2. Creativity and originality in the content of the letter are important. Make it memorable or surprising.
3. Make sure your grammar, spelling and punctuation are on point.
4. Using emotive and descriptive vocabulary will help your entry stand out.

Special tips:
You might have been asked to change the ending of a book or story. However, have you ever thought of a new ‘beginning’ for a book? Think about the author to whom you would want to address the letter. Which book of theirs would you choose to suggest a different ‘beginning’ for?

These questions below may help you too:

  • Did you ever read a book that you thought could have begun differently?
  • What would you like the new ‘beginning’ to be?
  • Would you include something new – like a new character or a new setting?
  • Do you think the ‘beginning’ would work better if it had a quote or an image? What could it be?
  • Why do you want to change the original ‘beginning’?

And now, let’s begin!

For some more advice on how to write an effective letter, you can watch a recording of our letter writing workshop with author Kathy Urban below.

Terms and Conditions

  • Participants must be residents of the UAE and must be in full-time education (school or home-schooled).
  • The competition is open to students of all abilities.
  • Entrants must keep the original copy of the handwritten letter that they have submitted.
  • Copyright of material submitted remains with Emirates Literature Foundation and RGS Guildford Dubai.
  • Do not submit work as your own when part or all of it has been done by someone else; this includes material found online. It must be entirely your own work, and any letters found to contain non-original content will be excluded.
  • The winning entrants agree to the Emirates Literature Foundation’s, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s and RGS Guildford Dubai’s use of their name and photographs in relation to related publicity material and activities. Schools and students should be aware that they might need to obtain parental consent for this.
  • Entries must be received on or before the closing date of 11 December 2023, using the online form only.
  • Judges’ decisions are final, and no correspondence will be entered into with regard to these decisions.
  • No part of the prize is exchangeable for cash or any other prize.
  • The prize will not be transferable to another person.
  • Participation in the competition is not open to employees (and/or members of their immediate families) of the Emirates Literature Foundation.
  • All participants will automatically receive a Certificate of Participation upon completing the entry form and submitting their letters.
  • Only the winners will be notified in advance by email, in January 2024.
  • In accordance with normal conventions for writing competitions internationally, entries which do not adhere to the said Terms and Conditions will not be considered.

Please check that you have followed and agreed to all the terms and conditions before submitting your letter.

The Prize Giving Ceremony will take place during the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, held in February 2024.

Enter the Competition

Oxford University Press Story Writing Competition
We look forward to reading your entry!

Submit Your Letter

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