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Summer Is The Best Season Of The Year Essay Contest


On August 30 , The New York Public Library will be honoring four young readers who participated in our Summer Reading Challenge. This year’s summer reading theme was “Build a Better World through Reading” and young readers age 6 - 18 were challenged to write an essay describing how a book they have read, or reading in general, can help make the world a better place. Of the more than 150 essays received, four grand prize winners were chosen to take a bow on the field at Yankee Stadium, meet a player, and and stick around to watch the game with their families.

  • Khandker Shafwan Habib, age 7, from Westchester Square Library

  • Mariam Khelashvili, age 8, from Roosevelt Island Library

  • Kai Lefkowitz, age 10, from Tompkins Square Library

  • Anna Zhang, age 15, from George Bruce Library

Read the winning essays below, and stay tuned for the release of the next NYPL Zine, which will feature the essay winners along with other notable essays submitted by our talented young patrons.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Summer Reading Essay Contest!

Khandker Shafwan Habib, age 7, from Westchester Square Library

Reading is the foundation of our world. Without reading, it would be near impossible to complete tasks as simple as reading instructions from a lab manual, reading the news, messaging friends and much more. In a globally changing world full of the latest technology, it is important for us not to allow the importance of reading to be diminished from our lives. Reading can help build an even better world as it allows us to gain a stronger education, share experiences and get us ready for adult life. Reading can help build a better world, and it all begins with us.

Reading can help give us a good education because we can learn many things by reading. For example, non-fiction books can teach us about animals, objects and our bodies. If one is interested in reading and wants to read about animals, one has to understand or one won’t know lots of facts about animals. Another reason reading can give us a good education is because it can help one in life. For example, if a little boy uses something children definitely should not touch, he can get hurt. For this reason, children can read books about how to be safe. Finally, reading gives everyone a higher education because at school, teachers teach strategies in reading and how to read with more stamina. Teachers also break down difficult vocabulary if necessary.

Reading allows us to share experiences and learn because everyone has different ideas and opinions. We can also share experiences by telling a little summary to our partners. Understanding is also important. It is a big part of reading because if we just read and don’t understand, we cannot learn or share experiences. I can share my experiences about a book called, “How do Hot Air Balloons Work?” I learned that a balloon basket can hold tanks with fuel, so I can teach my friends more about this subject. When I share my experiences, I usually talk about my predictions, questions and thoughts and ask if my partner can help me clarify a line. Also, when we talk about one idea, we delve deeper into other possible hidden meanings. We sometimes consider the moral of the story and other important questions, all in an effort to understand the true essence of the author’s writing.

Reading can help prepare us for adult life because we will know how to read. We will know how to stop when there is a period, exclamation point, comma or question mark. When we grow older, we will also read newspapers like the New York Times, which usually contain harder language. Reading can help us improve our writing in adult life, since we will have read about and know more sophisticated vocabulary, which will set us apart from the average writer. If one knows more vocabulary, one will also tend to challenge oneself, which will make him/her more successful in life. Finally, reading will help us become smarter. When I attend high school in the future, classes will get much harder and I can use reading strategies I learned when I was young to make the transition much easier.

Ultimately, reading is an important cornerstone in our lives. It allows us to become smarter and more ready for later life. From there, we can collectively build a better world, where more and more people are enthusiastic about reading. As Dr. Seuss once said, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you will go.”

Mariam Khelashvili, age 8, from Roosevelt Island Library

The world is a very busy place. Good people, bad people, small people, big people, all attending to their own business. It’s a very pleasant planet. But could it be better? Most people are honest. And most people are kind. And a lot of people have a lot of good qualities. But some people don’t. For the world to be better, more people must be kind, honest, and caring. More people must be knowledgeable, scientific, and logical. And most importantly, we should be healthy, others should be healthy, and the planet should be healthy. And how should we achieve that? We should read books. Books fill children’s lives with joy, inspiration, and wonder, but they also inspire them to be kind and to fulfill good deeds. And they also teach you other things. For Jules Verne, a French author in the 19th century, wrote books showing exotic animals never heard of, pointing out certain plants, and wrote about minerals not thought of in youngers minds, so those books teach you science and biology, one of the very important virtues that will make the world a better place. This is only one example of thousands of books with numerous interesting facts and information which will help you greatly in your life. Them there is “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It already shows the virtues of kindness when Mary and Dickon were helping Colin get to his feet, but it also shows you the skill of gardening when Mary tends the Secret Garden, which leads to another great virtue, caring for our planet. The cherry tree story about George Washington (actually invented by Parson Weems in 1800) teaches you honesty when Washington said: “I Cannot tell a lie” and told the truth, and “The Swiss Family Robinson” shows you what a family really is when they hunt game and the mother cooks it, or the whole family gets together on expeditions.

There is a book for every virtue,
There is a line for every deed,
There is a verse for every action,
And a word for all you need.

Without books, the world would not be able to change for the better.

Kai Lefkowitz, age 10, from Tompkins Square Library

Baseball books are actually my favorite kind to read. I like the Derek Jeter series for kids including The Contract, Hit or Miss and Change Up. These books talk about his childhood, both in and out of baseball. He shares ten life lessons with readers. I have five favorites like “[s]et your goals high, [t]hink before you act and [d]eal with growing pains.” The first two are pretty straightforward but are good lessons to live by. But the third idea of growing pains is just as cool because it can guide us through the disappointment and frustration that challenge us all. Jeter makes the best out of the worst experiences. His books talk about finding a way through until he can make a situation work for him. Jeter understands that he is not perfect and that he can not always win. In fact, the fourth lesson Jeter highlights says “Don’t be afraid to fail.” But at the same time, he manages to refuse accepting defeat.

I recall one part where Derek writes about how he does not worry about his stats or how they compare to anyone else on the field when he is at the plate. He does not scare himself or worry about all the things that could go wrong. He clears his mind and focuses on aggressively hitting a pitch he likes and all the training and practice he has done.

The fifth lesson I will share of Jeter’s is that “[t]he world isn’t always fair.” In Jackie & Me by Dan Gutman readers see this idea from different directions. In this ultimate fan fiction, Joe Stoshack is a Polish little league player up at bat when the book opens. It is a scrimmage between his team the Yellow Jackets and their rivals, who always make fun of Joe because he is Polish. Joe loses his cool and strikes out, But he develops a new perspective when he travels back in time, turning into a black kid, to when the legendary Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the MLB. Jackie shares the same kind of anger of wanting to fight back but Jackie explains “I have held back my fists when I wanted to hit somebody with it. I did that because some acts show courage. Others show stupidity. You’ve got to pick and choose your battles.” (page 131).

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki is another good example of how the game became a way to stand up for and believe in yourself even when other people (including teammates, community members and people who should support you) do not. I think these books and Jeter’s series show just how important perseverance is in getting what you want the most; whether it is being accepted for who you are, being a good little league player or a clutch team captain.
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I am black and Jewish and no one else looks like me on my teams. To me, books in general, can make the world a better place because reading puts you inside of an experience and helps you understand something deeply whether you are having to live it or not. Once we apply those lessons these authors share to the lives we are living we can see how much we actually have in common. If people did this they would realize they are more alike than they thought and the world would be run more smoothly. People would judge each other on things that they can control and that matter.

Anna Zhang, age 15, from George Bruce Library

The power and ability of books is often underestimated. Books are the foundation of the world, the building blocks of the future. In this day and age, modern technology has replaced books and reading in the lives of many, who instead rely on smartphones and computers for virtually everything. Of course, these technological advancements are beneficial to society, but it is easy to forget that none of these advancements would have been possible without books.

How would ancient civilizations have governed their people if the codes of law had not been written down? How would the modern airplane exist today if Orville and Wilbur Wright had not recorded the blueprints of their first airplane? How would revolutionary medicine be saving countless lives today if scientists had not recorded their experimental findings? It is clear that people learn from books. Without books, most of history and discoveries would have simply be forgotten. Books preserve knowledge from the past and allow it to be spread throughout cultures and even time periods. Books have allowed people to learn from one another, to build off of one another’s discoveries, and to ultimately progress further. They have enabled us to gain knowledge about civilizations that have been gone for thousands of years, to learn about the cultures and lifestyles of other societies, and to understand more about people who are often misunderstood.

A better world is built through education, and education starts with books. Today’s younger generation will run the world in the future, and so it is crucial that they are educated, as they will be the ones who teach our children, make our laws, and care for our sick.

In addition, books inspire creativity and spark imagination as well as new ideas. Imagine how monochrome and colorless the world would be if books did not exist. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a book that takes place in a dystopian society, in which books are required to be burned and destroyed. The civilians in this society have no sense of identity, do not appreciate the beauty of nature, do not have independent thoughts, and even prefer watching television rather than spend valuable time with their families. Because books are banned, the people have no way of expressing themselves and using their imagination. Their world is simply black and white, and they prefer it that way.

Since the beginning of time, books have greatly impacted individuals and societies. They have enabled numerous technological advancements and inventions, allowed different groups of people to learn from and about each other, and have educated and inspired creativity in people of all ages from across the world. It is clear that books have shaped and built the world as we know it today, and will continue to do so for the remainder of humanity.

The New York Public Library’s Summer Reading Program is generously funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York; HSBC Bank; New York Yankees Foundation; The Rona Jaffe Foundation; HBO®; New York State Library's Family Literacy Library Services grant program; Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Inc.; May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc.; anonymous donors, and the continuing major support of the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Family Endowment for Young Audiences.  Special thanks to partner Sesame Street.

The Reach Cambridge scholarship essay competition is designed for academically excellent high school students aged between 15 and 17 who would otherwise not be able to attend our summer programs. Please note that this scholarship competition is not for application to the University of Cambridge.

Please note, the Scholarship Scheme for 2018 is now closed. Successful applicants will be contacted on or after the 31st December 2017.

What are the prizes?

First Prize:

3 week scholarship prize (awarded to a maximum of 2 students): 100% of the program fee for our 3 week Program 1 in 2018.

Second Prize

2 week scholarship prize (awarded to a maximum of 3 students): 100% of the program fee for either our two week Program 2 or our two week Program 3 in 2018.

Please note that both prizes include all those items ordinarily covered by the program fee. They do not include the cost of flights, or other items which are not ordinarily covered by the program fee. We may also award a prize for our Spring Program which will be decided at the discretion of the Scholarship Team. See terms & conditions for further details.

What is the essay question and what else will be taken into consideration?

The essay question for this year’s scholarship competition is:

“In an age of quick and easy global communication, what is the value of face-to-face interaction and learning with students from around the world?”

To craft a good essay requires careful argumentation, clear structure and personality. It is these characteristics that we will look for in judging applicants’ essays. We will also take into account the letter of recommendation supplied by your school.

How do I enter?

In order to enter the competition, follow these simple steps to complete a full application by the 1st of December 2017:

  • Follow the link below to set up a Reach Cambridge scholarship account (do not use the “apply” button at the top right of our website – you cannot set up a scholarship account through that link)
  • From your main account page, select the “Scholarship” tab on the left
  • Copy your essay into the box provided (it should be no longer than 1000 words). Answer all other questions on the page.
  • A letter of recommendation from a member of staff at your school must be uploaded using the form in the Scholarship Tab of your account page. This should be written on official headed school paper, and should outline why you are a good candidate for the scholarship: it should tell us what makes you academically excellent, and it must give us some indication of your financial circumstances. For example, if you attend a fee-paying school, the letter must specify whether you attend the school on a scholarship, or whether you are full or part fee-paying. It must include contact details for the member of staff so that we can contact them for further information if necessary. This is the only part of the application that should come from your school – the rest needs to be completed by you.
  • You must also complete the School Transcript, Declaration Form, Parent Info, and School Info sections of your account. Please note that if you do not complete all these sections of your application, we will not consider your application. They should all be “ticked” on your account page before the deadline.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be notified by 31st December 2017, and will be invited for an online interview.

Please ensure you read the scholarship essay competition terms and conditions before applying. By submitting an application you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

THE SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME FOR 2018 IS NOW CLOSED

Scholarship Essay Competition Terms & Conditions:

  • Applicants must be between the ages of 15 and 17 on 1st July 2018, and currently studying at high school.
  • The students must complete the essays independently – they must be original non-plagiarised work.
  • The closing date for scholarship applications is 1stof December 2017 at 23:00 GMT. We will only consider full applications submitted by this date. A full application is one that includes an answer to the essay question and all other questions on the “Scholarship” tab, the letter of recommendation from your school, and also has the following sections completed on the account page: School Transcript, Declaration Form, Parent Info, School Info.
  • Applicants from fee-paying schools will only be considered if their letter of recommendation confirms that they attend the school on a scholarship.
  • The prizes provide without charge all those items ordinarily covered by the program fee, including accommodation, all excursions, lectures, theatre trips, workshops and tuition, and half board meals.
  • These prizes do not include those items which are not ordinarily covered by the program fee: flights; transportation to/from Cambridge at the start and end of the program if travel is undertaken independently; third meal of the day (half board is provided); optional enhancements shown to have an extra fee; snacks, drinks and meals purchased away from the program; pocket money and souvenirs; visa costs (if required); books for credit courses and classes; laundry (aside from bed linen); travel insurance, medical insurance and any medical or dental fees.
  • It is not guaranteed that Reach Cambridge will offer scholarship prizes to any of the candidates. Reach Cambridge reserves the right to not award scholarship prizes.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be notified by 31st December 2017.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an online interview in early January 2018, and will be notified of the outcome by the end of January.
  • The author of the students’ recommendation letter may be contacted for further information.
  • The final decision on prize winners rests with Reach Cambridge Ltd. By submitting an application for the scholarship the student agrees to respect and honour the decision made by Reach Cambridge.
  • By submitting an application to the scholarship competition, the student agrees to assist with promoting the scholarship scheme if awarded a prize.
  • The successful applicant also agrees to their name being published on the Reach Cambridge website, as well as on its social media pages.
  • The student must have permission from a parent or guardian to accept the scholarship. Scholarship prizes are conditional on parental approval – a parent/guardian will be required to sign a declaration that they accept the Reach Cambridge terms and conditions and rules and regulations.
  • By applying for this scholarship, the student agrees to abide by the Reach Cambridge Terms and Conditionsand Rules and Regulations, available on our website, as well as these scholarship terms and conditions
  • Students do not have to pay a deposit before applying for the scholarship.
  • Please note that all terms and conditions for Reach Cambridge courses, including the cancellation policy, also apply for scholarship applicants.

 

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