Last year, Sussex County had several participants, most notably Molly Amerling, who became a state finalist. Amerling wrote about the book The Journey, by Francesca Sanna which is about immigration. In her letter she talked about how, after reading the book, she felt encouraged to reach out to a fellow student she knew was an immigrant. Amerling, now a year older, recalls her reaction to the book. “There was a student who moved from Syria because of the war, and it reminded me of him. So I asked him about his experience.” The impact of the book lead to enrichment of their relationship, and they are still friends.
Amerling’s mother, Erin, says the competition had a positive, lasting impact for the family, “Molly thought it was especially cool to be the first person to win from Sussex County. I’d definitely encourage other local kids to do it!”
Mary Shockley, the Youth Services Librarian for the Frankford Public Library, spoke about the importance of the contest in the context of today’s social climate. “We need the world to be reading, and through this contest, we can see that’s happening and how the books are impacting children.” Last year, after Amerling’s touching letter, the Bethany Beach Bookstore donated 6 copies of The Journey to the Frankford Public Library, and Shockley is in turn delivering those to local public schools.
The contest is a great way to foster critical thinking skills and, says Shockley, a terrific idea for avoiding the “summer slide” and to encourage reading. The book can be any manner of literature, from picture books to longer chapter style books, as long as it has been an influential read and had an impact on the student.
There are numerous awards for placing in the contest at the State levels. The contest awards thirty State Finalists, six State Winners, and three Grand Prize winners with gift cards and they will be honored at a presentation at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in September.
Shockley is hoping that both parents and teachers will encourage their students to participate in this year’s contest. The Frankford Library loves partnering with local schools to foster a love of reading. Interested parents and teachers can contact Mary Shockley, Youth Services Librarian, for any information, including deadlines, for the “A Book That Shaped Me,” Contest at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling at 302-732-9351.