Winner Announcement 05/23/07      How I Learned to Read Essay Contest 2007

Sponsored by the Friends of the Plattekill Public Library  

First of all, we wish to thank all who participated in the first Annual essay contest offered by the Friends of the Plattekill Public Library. We decided to have the contest in honor of National Library week, which was in April, but we also wanted to celebrate the love of reading. What better way than to hear about how others have learned to read? This is why we decided to focus the contest on “How I Learned to Read” theme.

We received 84 contest entries, and our judges enjoyed reading the essays and hearing about how so many people learned to read, who helped them and why they love to read. I would like to share with you some quotes from some of the entries we received:

“Reading helps understand life and its something you’ll have with you for life.”

“Reading means a lot to me because now that I read, I can have a new adventure every time I pick up a book. One day I can share a castle with a fairy princess and the next day I can sail the seven seas with a ship full of pirates.”

“My father loved books as a kid and adult, and he helped me read.  Sometimes he would do my chores for me so I could keep reading.”

“I read a book the first time to get the flow of the plot. I read a book a second time for details. I read a book the third time for any character development and to find any extra details I missed.”

“Reading is like a map. It will take you where the person is the book is going.” 

“Reading makes people smarter.”

The winners each received an award certificate and a gift card to Barnes and Noble.  The winners are:

Adult Category – Vivian Lambertson

High School Category – Julia Castore

Middle School Category – Ashley Kessler

Elementary and Grand Prize Winner – Mei Shu Cui

The above links will take you to the essays. 


We were fortunate to have four wonderful volunteers to judge our contest and we would like to thank them for their time and efforts. The four judges were:

Valerie Smith – She is the Vice President of the Library Board of Trustees. She is also a literary agent by profession, so she especially enjoyed reading the creative and thoughtful essays we received.

Jane Gregory – Jane has taught English for thirty-nine years -- 2 at the K-7 level as a remedial reading teacher, 27 years of high school and community college level (as a literature and creative writing teacher and remedial writing teacher), and ten years as an adjunct professor at SUNY New Paltz, teaching English teacher candidates.  She is also a storyteller and has taught many workshops on writing, folklore, and storytelling.  She is a guest lecturer at Vassar and Dutchess Community Colleges on many topics of storytelling and folklore.

Elizabeth Werlau – Many know Elizabeth as a community reporter for the Southern Ulster Times. However, she is also a full-time Middle School English Teacher in the Wallkill School District and often very involved in supporting local activities in our community.

Mike Reiter - Mike Reiter is a local resident and busy father. He is also a high school English teacher in the Arlington Central School District, but still managed to find some time to help us judge the essays in our contest. He credits The Hobbit with beginning his life long love of reading.

Congratulations to all of those who entered, and special congratulations to our winners. My you use your prize to continue your love of reading.

Best wishes from the Friends of the Plattekill Public Library.