The illustrations WQED gets every year as entries in the annual PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest
"put a super-smile on your face," says the station's Jennifer Stancil, executive director of educational partnerships. And the judges get attached to certain tales: "Often we find grown adults defending stories about crocodiles, fairies, spaceships and frogs on the moon, and they get very passionate about it," she reports.
That's why she's encouraging all kids from kindergarten to third grade to enter the 18th annual contest aimed at inspiring and increasing children’s reading skills. With EQT Corporation as a sponsor, Stancil expects hundreds of entries that will generate both local and national winners.
WQED and stations in West Virginia and at Penn State will be working with local teachers and libraries to encourage entry creation, including the opening of two new PBS Kids Library Corners (the first such in the region) at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie on Jan. 26 and the Homestead Library on Feb. 2. Saturday Light Brigade is also installing two new Story Boxes that feature audio of last year's winners reading their entries.
Parents and teachers can register for one-hour webinars to encourage their kids: Writing and Editing
on Jan. 25 by elementary school teacher Caley Svensson; Ideation to Storyboarding
on Feb. 8 by local children’s author Michael Scotto; and Illustration
on March 7 by Joe Wos, executive director of the Toonseum.
Deadline for entry is April 6.
Past entries have been "amazing and imaginative," Stancil marvels -- everything from pop-up books to stories about science and sports. In art, "we will get everything from colored pencil drawings to paintings, photographs, and a lot of collage, a lot of three-dimensional art." Parents can even write words narrated by their youngest ones.
Prizes include tablets, e-readers and MP3 players will be handed out this summer, and winners and honorable mentions will record their stories live in the SLB radio studios at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, along with a celebration at WQED on May 12 that will include a performances of the winners’ stories as puppet plays.
Every grade level has four winners locally "and a great deal of honorable mentions," Stancil says. "Last year we had 'Best Use of a Pittsburgh Steeler' as an honorable mention … because we get really attached to stories that well-exceeded expectations."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Jennifer Stancil, WQED Pittsburgh
This story originally ran in Pittsburgh is Kidsburgh