News & Media

Browse the latest industry and company news.

You are here

Zaner-Bloser Adds a Kindergarten Category to Kick off the 23rd Annual National Handwriting Contest

COLUMBUS, OHIO (October 1, 2013) —The definition of handwriting means writing by hand with a pen or pencil. Students across the country will be testing those skills as they prepare to compete in the 23rd Annual Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. For the first time since its inception, kindergarteners will also be invited to compete in the manuscript (printing) portion of the contest.

Zaner-Bloser decided to add the new kindergarten category because handwriting is one of the key foundational skills taught to kindergarten and pre-k students. “The rigor of kindergarten is so strong now. Why not reward them for the hard work and dedication it takes to master handwriting,” says Bob Page, president of Zaner-Bloser. “Research continues to show that students as early as pre-K can benefit from putting pencil to paper when it comes to developing literacy and fine motor skills.”

The contest is open to all students in grades K-8 in both public and private schools. Schools hold their own handwriting contests and enter the winning student for each grade level. Judges will look for handwriting that appears relaxed and natural, not traced, and must meet the Zaner-Bloser Keys to Legibility: size, shape, spacing, and slant.

Judges select state winners in grades K-8 for both public and private schools. State winners compete against each other to become one of the 18 public and private National Grade-Level Semifinalists. Those semifinalists then compete to be chosen as one of nine Grand National Champions. The submission deadline is January 23, 2014—National Handwriting Day. More than $100,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded and distributed among all the winning students, their teachers, and schools.

Nicholas Maxim Award for Special Needs Students

An exciting category added two years ago is the Nicholas Maxim Award for Special Needs Students. This is a challenging educational opportunity for special needs students to test their manuscript and cursive skills in a fun competition with their peers. Zaner-Bloser created and named this award in January of 2011 after receiving an entry from Nicholas Maxim, a 5th grader from Readfield, Maine, who submitted an outstanding cursive entry despite the fact he had been born without hands and his lower arms. 

Eligibility requirements for the Nicholas Maxim Award for Special Needs Students include:

  • One manuscript (print) and one cursive special needs award entry per school
  • A student must have a cognitive delay or an intellectual, physical, or developmental disability
  • Each entry must be accompanied by a letter on official school letterhead explaining the student’s special needs handwriting challenge

All students chosen as “school winners” compete for the Nicholas Maxim Award for Special Needs Students—one for manuscript and one for cursive—worth $1,000 in cash and a trophy. Entries are judged by a team of occupational therapists.

Teachers can download an entry form by visiting The company estimates that more than 3.3 million students have participated in the contest during its 22-year history. 

About Zaner-Bloser

Zaner-Bloser, a wholly owned subsidiary of Highlights for Children with more than 120 years of experience in education, is one of the premier publishers of research-based reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, and handwriting programs. The Zaner-Bloser mission is to create dynamic, appealing, and effective educational programs and services. Zaner-Bloser focuses on distinctive programs that inspire all students to become engaged, literate participants in the global society.

For media inquiries, contact Celina Fabrizio at and 614-224-8114, or Tia Piacquadio at and 614-487-2630.

            © Zaner-Bloser, Inc. All Rights Reserved.      Privacy Policy