Creative Writing Competition 2019

About the competition

The Tower Hamlets Creative Writing Competition is an annual event for schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for students aged nine years to sixteen. Conceived in 2004 by Tower Hamlets Gifted and Talented strand of the Excellence in Cities programme, it has been run by Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service since 2011 with the aims of promoting wider reading and literacy, and to encourage young people to express themselves through the written word.

Research carried out during the 2018 competition showed that pupils participating in the competition and the author workshops benefited by gaining confidence in their writing ability and gaining greater insight into the issues raised by the competition themes.


NEW : KS1 categories

We are expanding the age range for primary schools, with all pupils in KS1 and KS2 eligible to take part.

  • There will be 3 age groups in the competition :
    • Group 1 : Years 1, 2 and 3
    • Group 2 : Years 4, 5 and 6
    • Group 3 : Years 7, 8 and 9
  • Categories for each age bracket are poetry and short stories
  • The winning entries will be published as an eBook as usual

The Theme

The theme for 2019 is The Clothes I Am

Ideas for working with the theme...

You can interpret the theme The Clothes I Am in any way you wish. We’ve collected possible ideas below:

Story choices

  • What genre and style do you want to write in? Genres include; Adventure, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Horror
  • Who are the main characters and what are they doing in the story?
  • Because we don’t have long to get involved in your story – how do you make the reader interested in the characters or their situations?
  • If it’s a poem, what sort of poem is it? Is it in rhyme, a narrative poem? Is it meant to be read aloud?


Types of clothing

  • There are many types of clothes to consider! Outfits, costumes, uniforms, hats, shoes, underwear, space suits or nothing at all!


Traditional tales, myths and fantasy

  • Fairytale characters often have magical or special clothes (red riding hood, Cinderella’s gown and shoes). Imagine that they wore something else – how would this change the story? What magical clothes would you like to have?
  • Heroes from myths and legends and fantasy stories often have magic clothing, such as winged sandals, seven-league boots and helmets and cloaks that grant shape-shifting and invisibility, to get them out of (or into) trouble.
  • Superheroes and their use of costumes

Clothing, and identity and culture

  • What we wear as part of our identity.
  • Clothes that make us the same as others, and clothes that make us stand out
  • Being forced to wear something
  • Wearing the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Can we tell who someone is from what they are wearing?
  • Clothing that makes us acceptable to others
  • Clothing and prejudice
  • Clothes from the past
  • Can we change who we are by changing what we wear?
  • The colours we choose
  • How wearing different clothes make us feel

Symbolism in clothing

  • Implied status or identity
  • Position in society

Clothing and Adventure

  • Clothes that disguise us and allow us to become someone else
  • Clothing that we need to survive
  • Clothing for discovery, adventure, play and escapism
  • Where do I want to be in the future?

Ethics and clothes

  • Where do my/our clothes come from?
  • Who made them and what are they made of?
  • What is the environment in which they were made like?
  • How long have I been wearing my clothes? When I don’t want or need them anymore, where do they go?

Clothing and humour

  • Funny or inappropriate clothing
  • Wearing the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Clothing that makes someone behave differently

Story examples

These are some examples of stories involving clothing as a central or significant theme

Fairytales/ traditional tales

  • The Elves and the shoemaker
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • Cinderella
  • Red Riding Hood

Picture books

  • ‘Mr Benn’ by David Mckee
  • ‘Socks’ by Nick Sharratt
  • ‘Traction Man’ by Mini Grey
  • ‘Yuk!’ by Kes Gray
  • ‘Tutus aren’t My Style’ by Linda Skeers
  • ‘Made by Raffi’ by Craig Pomranz
  • ‘Rosie’s hat’ by Julia Donaldson
  • ‘Millie’s Marvellous Hat’ by Satoshi Kitamura
  • ‘Jamela’s Dress’ by Nikki Daly
  • ‘My Mother’s Sari’ by Sandhya Rao
  • ‘I Want my Hat Back’ / ‘That’s Not My Hat’ by Jon Klassen
  • ‘The Hueys in : The New Jumper’ by Oliver Jeffers
  • ‘Sari Games’ by Naina Gandhi
  • ‘10,000 Dresses’ by Marcus Ewert
  • ‘A Kente dress for Kenya’ by Juwanda G Ford
  • ‘Caps for sale’ by Esphyr Slobodkina


  • ‘Bill’s New Frock’ by Anne Fine
  • ‘The Boy in the Dress’ by David Walliams
  • ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne
  • ‘The Killer underpants’ by Michael Lawrence
  • ‘Captain Underpants’ by Dav Pilkey


  • ‘She wore red trainers’ by Nai’ima B Robert
  • ‘Wonder’ by R J Palacio
  • ‘Socks are not enough’ / ‘pants are everything’ by Mark Lowery
  • ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth
  • ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins


Taking Part

  1. Register for the competition via SLA online (Tower Hamlets Schools) or by contacting the schools library service (non-borough schools)
  2. Inspire your pupils to write stories and/or poems around the competition theme
  3. Send the work to us by the end of the spring term for judging
Order for deliveryAbout us/ SubscribeContact us