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Armed Services YMCA Sets 1998 Essay Contest

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 1998 – A program supporting installation libraries, DoD schools and other agencies that serve the children and youth of military families was outlined recently by the Armed Services YMCA.

The nonprofit organization's "Young Readers Project" Essay Contest is a worldwide effort to encourage reading among military family members. Winners of 20 U.S. Savings Bonds will be announced in April.

To help strengthen an awareness of the importance of reading in an era dominated by electronics, the Armed Services YMCA will award Savings Bonds totaling $5,000 to students who submit winning essays related to the value of reading in their lives.

Students should submit their essays by midnight March 31 via electronic mail to the Armed Services YMCA at: asymca@erols.com. Contestants can also use regular postal mail, but entries must be postmarked by midnight March 31. Last year, 4,200 essays were submitted, with approximately one-third received electronically.

Two high school students (one in the United States and one living overseas) will each receive a $1,000 bond. And $500 bonds each will be presented to a student in middle school, one at the fourth to sixth grade level, and a child in the pre-school to third grade level.

Fifteen additional $100 bonds will go to runners up.

Military libraries on installations, DoD Education Activity schools worldwide, and youth and child development services program staff have been invited to participate in the Young Readers Project. The program focuses on the importance of good reading skills among youth and children in military families.

The DoD Education Activity is committed to enhancing the reading and writing skills of its students worldwide. "Research continues to demonstrate that reading -- for children of all ages -- improves their ability to learn, enhances their vocabularies, and strengthens their social skills and sense of self," said Joan Gibbons, DoDEA's reading coordinator. "Efforts by the community to help us reinforce the importance and pleasure of reading are helpful and appreciated."

Essays submitted for consideration in this contest will be on subjects that develop the theme of reading as a valuable and enjoyable activity.

  • Pre-school through third grade.

    The child's essay in this group should be a paragraph or two beginning with these sentences or thoughts: "I like my Mom and Dad to read to me because...." Or "The favorite story I like my Mom or Dad to read to me is...." Pre-school and second grade children may submit entries "as told to a parent." Third graders should write their own.

  • Fourth grade through sixth grade.

    The essay length in this category is 100 to 200 words, with the student relating his or her opinions and thoughts about reading. Possible themes: why the student chooses to use her time or his time to read; or an explanation directed to other children about the reasons they should read. Or "Why my library is so important."

  • Middle school.

    The length of the essay for this age group is 200 to 300 words, beginning with the following sentences or thoughts: "The most exciting thing about reading is...." Or "The kinds of books I like to read the most are...." Or "Reading is especially important in the electronics age." Or "How reading has helped me as a member of a military family."

  • High School.

    Student essays should be 400 to 600 words in length. Subjects should center on the pleasure and value of reading. For example, students could develop the theme of how reading has better prepared them for adulthood. It could be about how the student first discovered the value and importance of reading, what reading has meant to the student as a member of a military family, or the importance of reading in the electronics age.

Each entry must clearly indicate the student's name, age, grade and address, as well as parents' names and military unit affiliation, telephone number, and the name and location of the school attended.

The name of the school is important, because books and other publications will be contributed to installation libraries and the libraries of participating schools.

Libraries and other agencies on the installation with access to the Internet are all contest entry points.

(From an Armed Services YMCA news release)

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