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Contest recognizes county’s budding writers

by on February 22, 2018 9:18 AM

BELLEFONTE — A child’s imagination is an unstoppable force. Spend time with any young child and you will hear stories that range from simple to extensive. As an outreach assistant, I have the pleasure of speaking with children almost every day. 

One of the most common things I hear each time is, “Hey, let me tell you something.” You never know what sort of tale they will tell you: funny, sad, serious or happy. The joy is in the listening.

Storytelling is important for many reasons. A child’s ability to tell a story helps develop artistic expression and encourage imagination.

Storytelling helps children give words to things that they find difficult or overwhelming to express in other ways. It helps them to learn the basics of reading. Not to mention, it can be just plain fun. Some of my most enjoyable times as a child revolve around sitting down with a pencil and notebook and writing a story.

Who knows more about the importance of storytelling than people who work at a place filled with books? To help encourage the learning and love of writing, Centre County Library sponsors the annual Young Author and Illustrator Contest. 

First- through sixth-graders in Centre County may submit an original story to the competition. Graphic novels, poetry and non-fiction entries are also encouraged. Each child may submit only one entry, but a joint entry can be submitted if one child writes and another illustrates.

Submissions are sorted into grade levels and are judged by a panel of community volunteers. After reading all submissions, the judges choose a first, second and third place, as well as two honorable mentions for each grade level.

First-place winning submissions will be hardbound, and kept in the library’s permanent collection to be checked out — along with the last 33 years’ worth of first-place entries. Families of children with place-winning submissions also may purchase hardbound copies to keep in their own personal libraries.

Winners will be honored at a ceremony at Bellefonte Area High School on Wednesday, May 2. After a presentation by a local author, part of each winning story will be read by children’s librarian Laura Sarge. All the participants that evening will receive a medal.
Needless to say, the children love having their work honored and appreciated. It’s also exciting for them to know that they can go in to the library at any time to check out their book.

According to Sarge, “The Young Author and Illustrator Contest is a chance for our community children to express their creativity while exercising writing skills. The guidelines that are in place are for binding purposes, children have complete creative freedom when it comes to the story that they want to tell and how they want to tell it. This program empowers children and recognizes their efforts, which boosts their confidence as students and members of our community.”

Submissions for this year’s 33rd annual contest are being accepted until Monday, April 9, at any branch location.
For more information, visit, or pick up a packet at a any Centre County Library branch.

Julie Valora is the communications coordinator and outreach assistant at Centre County Library and Historical Museum. 


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