Library of Congress and Mid-Atlantic Public Libraries Kick Off Summer Essay Contest

The Library of Congress today launched its annual summer essay contest, in conjunction with public libraries in the Mid-Atlantic region, to encourage rising 5th- and 6th-grade students to reflect on books that have made a personal impact on their lives.

The "A Book That Shaped Me" Summer Writing Contest is administered as part of summer reading programs at participating public libraries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Prizes will be awarded and top winners will be invited to present their essays during a special presentation at the Library of Congress National Book Festival, Saturday, Sept. 5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The festival (www.loc.gov/bookfest) will mark its 15th anniversary since its establishment in 2001. The theme of this year’s festival is "I cannot live without books," a famous statement by Thomas Jefferson.

Students entering 5th and 6th grades in the fall of 2015 are eligible. Essays, focused on a single book, should be one page in length and must be submitted with an entry form, in person, at participating public library locations. The deadline for entries is Friday, July 10, 2015.

"A Book That Shaped Me" will award prizes to five finalists and one winner per state, and to three overall grand-prize winners. The 30 finalists will be selected by a panel of scorers composed of members of the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association. The three grand-prize winners will be selected by a panel of judges assembled by the Library of Congress, including educators, children’s authors and Library of Congress staff.

Submission forms are available at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center in Room G-29 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., or at participating public library locations. The list of participating libraries and more information are available at www.loc.gov/bookfest/kids-teachers/booksthatshape/.

Launched in 2012 with the D.C. Public Library, "A Book That Shaped Me" has since expanded throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with the help of public libraries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. More than 300 public libraries are registered to participate in this, the fourth program year. Public library systems in these states may sign up through May 15, 2015, by contacting BooksShapeContest@loc.gov for program details.

The Library kicked off the 2015 contest as part of its Children’s Book Week event featuring the three living National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature—Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson and Kate DiCamillo—and the son of late Ambassador Walter Dean Myers. Children's Book Week is sponsored by the Children's Book Council, which is a reading-promotion partner of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

The National Book Festival is funded by private donors and corporate sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy. Since 2010, National Book Festival Board Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein has been the festival’s lead benefactor and has pledged funding for the festival for five more years. Charter Sponsors include the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; the Patron Sponsor is the National Endowment for the Arts; the Contributor-level sponsors are Scholastic Inc. and WAMU 88.5 FM and, in the Friends category, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, Susan C. Lehrman and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Junior League of Washington will also return as the Library’s primary partner for volunteer support, a role the organization has played since 2003. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at devofc@loc.gov.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.

Auction Guide