- 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 biblical truth. (See the examples in the Story Examples section below.) We rarely accept stories without an illustration of this kind.
- Make sure the spiritual truth in your story connects to the gospel--what Jesus has done for us and how that provides a framework for the story's lesson.
- 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.
To see sample stories, download the PDF of our quarterly issue at www.keysforkids.org/pdf
This section speaks directly to the reader and helps them 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 for most stories, but feel free to suggest a different version if you think it fits your story better.
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 Jesus in everything. He loves them and died to save them, and they can take comfort in the fact that He promises to use even bad experiences 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 in our lives and blends them together to make us more like Jesus.
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 $30 for each story accepted. We reserve the right to revise the text as needed. We do not critique stories we cannot accept.
Keys for Kids stories are published in print and audio versions and are also uploaded to our website and app. We typically reprint Keys for Kids on a rotating basis, which means each volume will be edited, reprinted, and rerecorded every eight years or so. From time to time, stories are selected for use in other formats, such as books, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, 2060 43rd St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508. Please include an SASE with your submission.
PLEASE NOTE: We are not able to accept the following:
• Stories that have been published elsewhere in print or online (including blogs and social media)
• Stories that contain branded or trademarked material (for example, a story with kids discussing characters from a Disney movie)
• Stories that include song lyrics (due to copyright restrictions)
CURRENT NEEDS: We always welcome stories on any topic, but some of our specific needs at this time include:
- Stories featuring kids who are homeschooled
- Stories that are seeker-friendly (i.e. explain the gospel using language kids from a non-church background would understand)
- Stories with animals in them (especially animals kids might not see every day)
- Stories about kids with autism
- Stories featuring kids from single-parent or blended families
- Stories that take place in urban or multi-cultural communities
- Stories featuring kids who live outside the United States
We're also looking for content for Unlocked, our new daily devotional for teens. For more information, go to www.unlocked.org (please do not submit stories for Unlocked here).