The 500 Words competition, created by Chris Evans and now hosted by Zoe Ball on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, is one of the most successful story-writing competitions for kids in the world and helps to get children excited about reading and writing.
The shortlisted stories for this year have now been revealed; you can read them all on the BBC website. There are two different age categories (5-9 and 10-13), and these tales make great bedtime stories, which are fun for all the family.
The winners will be announced on Friday 14 June in a very exciting live show from Windsor Castle!
There are no limitations on what children can write about, as long as the stories are 500 words or fewer. This means the creativity and originality is amazing.
Annie, one of our team of dedicated judges, and our resident 500 Words theme expert, has been keeping track of the most popular story themes each year. She had this to say:
"The writers this year have proved once again how engaged they are to the big news of the day. Last year's standout theme was the environment, which preoccupied even more children this year; plastic, pollution and deforestation cropped up again and again. Climate change was just one area within a general theme of dystopia: evacuations, Brexit, the refugee crisis, homelessness, the war in Yemen, and fleeing earth for space were all popular topics."
"But it wasn't all despair - the writers had a lot to be excited about. We read about mermaids, dragons and unicorns as well as a whole host of real animals (once again dogs, cats and hedgehogs were very popular). We were introduced to a host of heroes, including suffragettes and footballers. There was also a huge focus on celebrating difference, whether it was unlikely superheroes, protagonists with disabilities, or LGBTQ+ families."
Over 130,000 children take part in the competition each year, and all of the stories are first read by brilliant teachers and librarians. Then, the team at The Reading Agency read around 5,000 of the top stories and help the BBC decide which will go through to the final. We love reading the funny, exciting and creative stories that kids from the ages of 5-13 have written.
Last year's winners were announced at a fantastic live show at Hampton Court Palace. Their stories were read by a starry list of celebrities including David Walliams, Jason Isaacs and Shobna Gulati. Each year, 10 million Radio 2 listeners tune in for the live final.
Read or listen to the stories that have made the final.
Do you know any children who entered the competition this year? Which of the stories on the shortlists would you like to see win the competition? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #500Words.