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The 2013 Student Writing Library Essay Contest

The Student Library Essay Contest was established 16 years ago by the Friends of the San Diego Public Library and San Diego Unified School District Librarians. The contest takes place at local branch libraries and their area schools with the mission to promote literacy and libraries through reading and writing.

Students in Grades 4, 8, and 10 at any local school, public or private, may enter by submitting an essay in response to a literary-based prompt, a list of which is created each year by a panel of librarians, teachers, and community members. (All prompts support California’s Department of Education Content and Performance Standards in Language Arts.)

Each year, approximately 2,000 students enter the contest. Schools that submit 1-10 entries have one winner, 11-20 entries have two winners, and above 20 entries have three winners announced through their area’s branch library.

When branch judging is completed, each Library’s Friends Group holds an awards ceremony to showcase their winners. These winners then become semifinalists for the grand prizes.

A panel of professional writers, including English teachers, librarians, and community members chooses the Grand Prize Winners who are honored in May at an awards ceremony in Balboa Park. Winners receive contest certificates, gift cards, City Council commendations, and the overall best essay is awarded a grand prize of $500.

Five years ago, KPBS’s One Book, One San Diego program joined forces with the contest, and now featured selections become possible essay topics. This year’s contest includes prompts from all three 2012 selections, Moloka'i by Alan Brennert, Into the Beautiful North by Luis Urrea and Sky of Red Poppies by Zoe Ghahremani.


16th Annual Student Library Essay Contest Entry Form 2013

16th Annual Student Library Essay Contest Entry...

Information about the 16th Annual Student Library Essay Contest 2013. Please print this out, complete it and, submit it along with your essay.

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To enter the contest, pick up an application at your local library or at your child’s school, or simply download the entry form by clicking on the thumbnail to the left. Turn in the essay and a completed entry form at your local public library.

For more information, contact Wendy Gay at (619) 697-2024 or


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