Young Authors

Steinbeck Young Authors

The Steinbeck Young Authors program, which begins its 16th year in the fall of 2018, presents an opportunity for middle school students to explore the pleasures of writing. It encourages students to enhance their skills by reading and responding to “The Gift,” the first story in John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony.

Steinbeck Young Authors provides teachers with a curriculum designed to enhance students’ writing skills through activities focused on The Red Pony. After completing the curriculum, teachers nominate student finalists for the Day of Writing, which connects students with community professionals acting as writing coaches. Students spend the day at the National Steinbeck Center working with coaches to write an essay in response to thematic prompts from The Red Pony. Students also participate in quick, fun educational activities throughout the Center. They learn about horse care, storytelling, and John Steinbeck himself through various Day of Writing activities.

Approximately 3,500 students from twelve public and private middle schools across Monterey County participated in the 2017-2018 Steinbeck Young Authors program. This enthusiastic group of young authors joined over 40,000 local students who participated in the program over the past fifteen years.

View the winning essays from 2017-2018 Program

SYA 2018-2019 Materials

If you have questions, would like to register your class for the 2018-2019 Program, or would like to volunteer as a Writing Coach, please email Tara Spada,

Special thanks to our sponsors for their generous support: