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PBS writing and illustration contest encourages children’s literacy and creativity

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The PBS Kids Writers Contest will again give north country students an outlet to showcase their talents in a writing and illustration project.

The annual contest sponsored by WPBS-TV is designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. Teri-Gene Conlin, outreach manager of WPBS-TV, said the goal is to inspire children in kindergarten through third grade to celebrate creativity and build literacy skills by writing and illustrating their own stories.

“We really want to encourage children and encourage their parents to get their kids involved in this contest,” Mrs. Conlin said. “Really, who knows what it’s going to start when children use their imagination?”

The contest is open to children in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. WPBS-TV will select local winners and award prizes in the spring. The deadline for submissions is March 31.

Entries will be judged on originality, creative expression, storytelling and integration of text and illustrations. The sponsoring PBS station will put together a jury of at least three people to judge local submissions based on the following criteria: creativity and originality of plot and/or themes, 40 percent; story structure and use of literary devices, 40 percent; and relevance, quality and originality of illustration, 20 percent.

Each year since the contest began 15 years ago, more than 100 students have submitted their original works about sports, princess/fairy tale adventures, biographical stories and other themes. Mrs. Conlin said it’s a favorite time of year at the PBS station when the submissions come in. Local winners are chosen and their work later is submitted to the national contest, in which a panel of judges will rank the top 12 entries.

National winners will be announced during the summer, and the winning stories will be featured on pbskids.org/writerscontest.

Contest rules allow only one entry per person and limit each story to a single author. Stories can be fact or fiction, and prose or poetry.

Submissions from kindergarten and first-grade participants must have a minimum of 50 words and a maximum of 200 words. Stories by second- and third-graders must have a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 350 words. Stories must have at least five original, clear and colorful illustrations.

The original art can include drawings, collages and 3-D work created by the author or photographs taken by the author.

“Some of the kids really make their stories come to life in these pictures and the stories,” Mrs. Conlin said. “We live in such a digital age, it can be a real creative boost when at the end of it they have a physical product, a book made entirely by them in their hands.”

The last nationally recognized local participant was second-grader Ritaj El Ghissassi from Massena. Ritaj’s story, “My First Shooting Star,” was uploaded to the organization’s website.

Projects can be submitted to the PBS Kids Writers Contest. For more information about the contest, go to www.wpbstv.org/writerscontest, or call Mrs. Conlin at 782-3142, ext. 315.

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