The First Page 2020

The First Page student writing challenge returns! For the 2020 challenge, CBC Books wants Grades 7 to 12 students to write the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today. Watch these Canadian authors who give their tips on writing a great first page. Download the First Page teacher guide for key concepts to crafting a compelling opening, possible writing topics and discussion questions.

The judge for 2020 is David A. Robertson, a Cree writer from Winnipeg who writes books for readers of all ages. He has published 25 books across a variety of genres, including the graphic novels Will I See? and Sugar Falls, and a Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book called When We Were Alone.

The deadline for entries is November 26, 2020  at 6 p.m. EST. To enter, visit: cbc.ca/thefirstpage 

  • 2017
  • 9-12
  • 11 Titles

Included in this collection

CBC Books The First Page: Cory Doctorow New

Cory Doctorow, best known for science fiction writing, talks about the importance of cutting the sentences you don't need when writing a story and how sci-fi writers drop clues for their readers about the kind of world they're living in. He reads the first page from Radicalized, his collection of four novellas that explore ethical questions surrounding how technology is abused ...
  • 2020
  • 00:03:35
  • 9-12
  • Added on: 11/06/2020

Teacher Guide(s)

  • The First Page teacher guide - DOC

  • The First Page teacher guide - PDF

CBC Books The First Page: Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee reads from the first page of Exo, her young adult sci-fi novel. She remarks that, when she starts a novel – particularly because she writes science fiction and fantasy – she thinks about presenting something familiar and presenting something strange; the idea being to make the reader feel comfortable while also giving them something to be curious about. She ...
  • 2019
  • 00:06:28
  • 9-12
  • Added on: 11/12/2019

CBC Books The First Page: Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay reads from the opening of his novel Escape, a sequel to his book Chase. He believes that what makes a good first page is something that grabs you right away: “You’ve got that first page, maybe two, to really grab the reader’s attention.” Download the First Page teacher guide for discussion questions on Barclay's novel, key concepts to writing a ...
  • 2019
  • 00:05:06
  • 9-12
  • Added on: 11/12/2019

CBC Books The First Page: Performance of 2017 winner (Grades 7 to 9) – Nameless by Sari Warshawsky

Hear the 2017 winning entry for The First Page student writing challenge in the Grades 7 to 9 category. The winning author, Sari Warshawsky, is a student at Royal West Academy in Montreal, QC. Sari's piece entitled Nameless tackles the pressure of perfection in a virtual world. It's performed by actor Nicole Volossetski. For the 2017 First Page writing challenge, over ...
  • 2018
  • 00:02:37
  • 13-14
  • Added on: 10/19/2018

CBC Books The First Page: Omar El Akkad

Author Omar El Akkad reads the first page from American War, his debut novel that was featured in Canada Reads in 2018. He suggests that what writers hold back from the reader in the opening pages is just as important as what they include. Download the First Page teacher guide for discussion questions on Omar's novel, key concepts to writing ...
  • 2018
  • 00:03:10
  • 9-12
  • Added on: 10/19/2018

CBC Books The First Page: Jennifer Chen

Jennifer Chen reads the first page from her debut YA novel, Super, and talks about the importance of not only finding a great hook, but building on the intrigue of the hook. Download the First Page teacher guide for discussion questions on Jennifer's novel, key concepts to writing a compelling first page and more.
  • 2018
  • 00:04:39
  • 9-12
  • Added on: 10/19/2018

CBC Books The First Page: Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline reads the opening page from The Marrow Thieves, her novel that won the Governor General's Literary Award (Young People's Literature - Text). She talks about how she sets the stage in her dystopian novel. Download the First Page teacher guide for discussion questions on Cherie's novel, key concepts to writing a compelling first page and more.
  • 2017
  • 00:05:00
  • 9-12
  • Added on: 10/18/2017

CBC Books The First Page: Vikki VanSickle

Vikki VanSickle, author of the young adult novel The Winnowing, reads the first page in her novel and talks about the importance of hooking readers as early as you can in a story. Download the First Page teacher guide for discussion questions on Vikki's novel, key concepts to writing a compelling first page and more.
  • 2017
  • 00:02:38
  • 9-12
  • Added on: 10/18/2017