- Propose a title.
- Suggest an appropriate Scripture passage, generally three to 10 verses, to reinforce the theme of your story. (Give the reference only—do not write out the entire passage.)
- Tell a contemporary story with a spiritual application, written from the third-person point of view.
- Avoid Pollyanna-type children—make them normal, ordinary kids, not goody-goodies.
- Include an illustration of the lesson being taught—some everyday happening or object that illustrates a spiritual or biblical truth. (See the examples in the Story Examples section below.) We rarely accept stories without an illustration of this kind.
- Avoid fairy tale endings.
- Teach one lesson only.
- Include some action and description, not just conversation.
- Some humor is good.
- Don’t be afraid of down-to-earth subjects kids face today. Divorce, abuse, pornography, racism, bullying, violence, substance abuse, and peer pressure can all be handled carefully and clearly.
- Keep in mind an age range of 6 to 12, but remember that Keys for Kids is often used in family devotions. Try to keep your story simple.
- The story should be around 350 words and no longer than 375 words.
Visit our online daily devotional page for a sample story:
This section helps readers apply the story to their lives. Be as specific as possible. For example, here’s one practical application we received:
Do you worry about the future? Just live the way Jesus wants you to, one step at a time, and the future will take care of itself!
It was changed to this:
Do you worry about the future? Do you wonder what you’ll do for a living? Maybe you’ll be an engineer or a doctor, or perhaps a scientist or a teacher. Be willing to do whatever God wants you to do. As you learn to trust Him and let Him lead you one step at a time, He will take care of the future.
The practical application should be 50-65 words. (NOTE: This does not apply toward the word count of your story.)
Choose a short verse that fits the theme of your story and write it out with the reference. (NOTE: This appears separately from the Scripture passage you suggest to go along with your story, though it can be one of the verses included in that passage—or a different one altogether.)
We use the New King James Version of the Bible.
Suggest a short key thought (2-6 words) based on your story’s message.
We received two stories that were very similar. They show what we mean by providing illustrations for story messages.
In each story, a boy named Tommy stopped to see his grandmother after a rough day at school. Everything had gone wrong, and he was quite depressed.
In the first story, Grandma listened to Tommy’s problems and sympathized with him. Then she reminded him of a verse he had memorized in church. It was Romans 8:28, which says, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” Grandma explained very nicely that although Christians can’t always see why certain things have to happen, they can trust God in everything. He loves them, and they can take comfort in the fact that God is using all these seemingly bad things for their good. Tommy felt better as he realized God cared about him and would allow only what was best for him.
It’s a nice message, right?
In the second story, Grandma was mixing batter for a cake when Tommy arrived and told her all about his problems. She was very sympathetic. “Here, Tommy, have a spoonful of flour,” she said. “Perhaps that will make you feel better.”
Tommy declined, of course. Then Grandma offered him a bit of raw egg, a taste of oil, a sip of vanilla, and so on. Tommy refused each one.
“None of those things taste good alone!” he told her. He was waiting for the finished product—the cake! Then Grandma pointed out that, just like many of the cake ingredients didn’t taste good on their own, some of the things we go through may not seem good to us, but God works everything together for good. He takes all the things He allows to come into our lives and blends them together to make something beautiful in the end. We must trust Him to do that.
While the first story has the same message, the second story offers a tangible illustration for readers to remember during difficult or challenging times. We accepted the second story.
We pay $25 for each story accepted. We reserve the right to revise the text as needed. We do not critique stories we cannot accept.
We typically reprint Keys for Kids on a rotating basis, which means each volume would be reprinted every eight years or so. Stories are also published on the Internet and may be selected for use in other formats, such as books, apps, audio/video, and other types of products intended to reach kids and their families for Christ. We retain all rights.
We prefer stories be submitted in a Word document via our online submission form. Please include your name (as you’d like it to appear if your story is accepted), address, and email address in your Word document. Since we review submissions on a quarterly basis, it may take up to 8-12 weeks for us to contact you regarding your submission. Email email@example.com with any questions (no phone calls, please).
If you have limited access to the Internet, you may send your submission to: Manuscript Submissions, Keys for Kids Publishing, Box 1001, Grand Rapids, MI 49501. Please include an SASE with your submission.
Please note: These guidelines are specifically for stories submitted for consideration in our Keys for Kids devotional. If you have a proposal for a book or other type of publication you would like to submit, please use the same submission form and include details about the type of content you are proposing in the Comments section.
Editor's note: We always accept submissions on any topic, but right now we're especially looking for stories with themes about rest or Christmas.