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HomeEventsOnce Upon a Time in My Future...

Once Upon a Time in My Future…

International Short Story Competition for Teens

World Tales Short Story Competition logo

UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation have launched the World Tales short story competition and are inviting teenagers (12-18) from all over the globe to write about the challenges of today and tomorrow in the format of a short story in English or French. 

The theme is Once upon a time in my future and each story should be between 250 to 500 words in length and has to show the potential for future societies to be fair, inclusive, peaceful, resilient, sustainable, and/or tolerant.

The competition—devised prior to the current pandemic—has poignantly taken on additional relevance, as CEO of the Idries Shah Foundation, Tarquin Hall, explains; “When we conceived the World Tales short story competition with UNESCO, we never dreamt that the world would come to a grinding halt—that millions of us would be confined to our homes, that high [main] streets would be empty, that emergency wards would be packed with people fighting for their lives. Suddenly the future looks a lot more uncertain and surely there’s never been a better time to stop and reflect on what the future will bring. So, we’re calling on anyone from the age of 12 to 18 to try to imagine the world of tomorrow, to produce a story in an imaginary future—one that they might be considering a little more carefully in the middle of this ongoing crisis.”

The Idries Shah Foundation is a British charity dedicated to bridging cultures through the power of stories. Afghan thinker and writer Idries Shah was himself a proponent of Teaching Stories or narratives created as a vehicle for the transmission of wisdom. His illustrated children’s books can be read for free at

All stories must be original and can be written in French or English. The closing date is midnight on the 15th October 2020 and the seven Gold winning laureates will be announced in December—all of whom will receive an iPad and have their story published in a special edition hardcover book. All rules, details about 21 winners in total and eligibility information can be accessed here

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