The Sixth Annual New York Times Summer Reading Contest

June 08, 2015
By Educator Innovator

Every year since 2010 The New York Times Learning Network (an Educator Innovator partner) has invited teenagers to add The New York Times to their summer reading lists, and every year more and more have taken up the offer.

This year, we’re running the contest with an all-new, and much-improved, commenting system that we hope will make the logistics easier for students and teachers alike.

Here’s how the contest works:

Every Friday from June 12 through Aug. 14 we’ll pose the same question: What interested you most in The Times this week?

Anyone 13 to 19 years old from anywhere in the world can post an answer, and contestants can choose from any Times article, essay, video, interactive or photograph published in 2015, on any topic they like.

Every Tuesday starting June 30 we will announce winners from a previous week and publish them on the blog.

Scroll down to find more details and tips, as well as a PDF of the rules to share schoolwide.

Q.  What kinds of responses are you looking for? NYTLN news article

A. We don’t care what you choose or whether you loved or hated it; what we care about is what you have to say about why you picked it.

If you don’t believe us, scroll through five years’ worth of winners. They have written on serious topics like patriotism, Internet surveillance and 21st century concentration camps, but they have also written on Disney shows, subway acrobats and a video about “the art of cabbage walking.”

Whatever the topic, you’ll see that the best pieces year after year make both personal connections to the news and go beyond the personal to discuss broader questions and ideas that an issue raises.

So whether you were moved by an article, enlightened by an essay, bowled over by a photo, irked by an editorial or inspired by a feature, find something in The Times that genuinely interests you and tell us why, as honestly and originally as you can.

Q. What are the rules?

A. First, here is a PDF of all the rules and details in this post. Please share.

— We will post the same Student Opinion question every Friday, starting June 12. Each will ask, “What interested you most in The Times this week?” That is where you should post your picks (and reasons) any time until the next Friday. Then we will close that post to comments and open a new one with the same question.

As soon as the contest starts, we will keep an up-to-date link to that week’s question at the top of this page.

— You can choose from anything published in the print paper or on in 2015, including videos, graphics, slide shows and podcasts.

— Feel free to participate every week, but we allow only one submission per person per week.

— The contest is open to teenagers only — anyone from 13 to 19 years old, from anywhere in the world.

— Our new commenting system allows responses up to 1,500 characters, which is somewhere between 250 and 300 words.

— Make sure to provide us with the full URL or headline (for example, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” or

New for 2015: Before you can post a comment on our blog now, you must register with The system is fairly simple, but if you need more directions, they are here. Please make sure that your user name does not include a last name. (If you win, you can have your last name published later by following these guidelines.)

Teachers: If you want all the students in a particular class to write in, just give them a code of some kind to affix to their user names. Last year, for instance, we received many with PRHSlions2014 appended.

summer reading subway

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Q. Who will be judging my work?

A. This year, The Learning Network is keeping judging in-house as we adjust to our new commenting system.

Q. When should I check to see whether my submission won?

A. Every Tuesday from June 30 to Sept. 1, we will publish a previous week’s winner or winners in a separate post. We will also celebrate the winners on Twitter and Facebook.

Q. How do I participate in this contest if I don’t have a digital subscription?

A. has a digital subscription system in which readers have free access to 10 articles each month. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.

One thing you should know, however, is that The Learning Network and all its posts, as well as all Times articles linked from them, are accessible without a digital subscription. That means that if you use any of the articles we have linked to on this blog for summer reading, they will not count as part of the 10-article limit. And you can use anything published in 2015.

Update, May 11 | The NYT Now app for iPhones is now free and offers daily articles and multimedia.

And if just paging, or clicking, through the paper doesn’t yield what you want, here are 10 new digital tools for finding interesting things in The Times.

Q. How do I prove to my teacher that I participated?

A. Our new commenting system makes that much easier than in the past. Now you can check a box that asks you if you would like to be emailed when your comment is published:


If you do so, the system will send you a link to your comment, which you can use to show your teacher, your parents, your friends or anyone else you’d like to impress.


Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Q. How can teachers, librarians and parents use this challenge? 

A. Over the years, adults have told us over and over that participating in this contest has made their students both more aware of and more interested in what’s going on in the world.

If that’s not enough of a reason to assign it, our contest is also an easy way to add more nonfiction to your students’ reading lists — and to encourage teenagers to make their own choices about what to read, as anything published in The Times in 2015 is fair game.

With our new commenting system, we also hope the September hassle we’ve previously put you through is eliminated: Every student who posts can now check a box asking to receive an email when his or her comment is published. With that email in hand, it should be much easier for your students to show you they’ve “done the assignment.”

Thank you for making this contest a hit year after year, and please spread the word that it’s back (and better than ever) for 2015.

Good luck. Please post any questions in the comments on the Learning Network and we’ll answer you there.

By Katherine Schulten
Original Post/ The New York Times Learning Network
Photo (top)/ Ruth Fremson/The New York Times