Sixteen Sweet Years
On Monday, May 21st, the Library hosted a unique Sweet Sixteen party: 16 years of the Young Writers Awards! This year’s competition included over 250 entries, with 12 winners and honorable mentions awarded by our longtime judges. The evening began with Children’s Library Committee member and trustee Susan Robbins warmly welcoming the audience and especially thanking Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner for her ongoing support of the competition.
Author Robert Quackenbush, judge for the prose entries from writers in grades 3-6, invited the young winners to the podium and each one shared a bit of their inspiration—from silly bedtime stories with a parent to school-sponsored initiatives about the developing world. One young writer impressed Quackenbush so much with his deep dive into research about World War II that the author gave him a copy of his own research notes.
Poet Dave Johnson, judge for the poetry submitted by children in grades 3-6, handed out prizes to the young poets, who had been inspired by a variety of topics including thunderstorms, frustration, and gelato!
Middle grade and YA author Carol Weston judged both the prose and poetry entries for grades 7-8. She read the opening lines of the winning poem influenced by political reporting and encouraged the audience to take in this thought-provoking palindromic creation from beginning to end and back again. This young writer excelled so much that she took home an honorable mention as well, in the prose category. The prose winner’s piece also had political roots, being an intriguing speculative piece inspired by conspiracy theories.
Finally, high school judge and writer Edra Ziesk offered some tips about writing as she handed out her top prize to a student whose prose piece had been written in honor of her grandparents, also in attendance at the ceremony. Following the award presentation, Head Librarian Carolyn Waters said she was in awe of this year’s pieces and fully expects to see these names on books in the Library’s stacks one day.
Every year, we enjoy welcoming young writers to the Library for this special occasion. It is a lovely evening for the children to celebrate with their families, friends, and teachers. We invite you to read this year’s winning words on our website and memorize their names, for they will likely be seen on the covers of books published in the future.