Judging a short story contest

The library system I work for is in the middle of its 2nd Annual short story contest for teens called It’s All Write. We have received a grand total of 175 submissions from middle and high school students across the country. No, not county. Country. Note the ‘r’. We put no residency limitations on this contest in (what I assume to be) an effort to be known nation-wide as an awesome library system that hosts awesome contests. (Or maybe it’s to get more submissions? I’m sticking with my “nation-wide awesomeness” theory…) I filed away submissions from Louisiana, Michigan, and Nevada; some from homeschoolers whose schools are based in Northern Virginia, some from teens who heard about the contest via a teen book blog run by a local (freaking awesome) family.

Regardless of how they found out about it, 175 teens felt compelled to enter the contest and we teen librarians are thrilled! My favorite thing about them, so far, is the titles. Some of them are just incredible, such as Field Guide to Pixies, Blood and Butterfingers, and my personal favorite title, Crispy, Crunchy Graham Cereal: Brand New Breakfast Conspiracy. I cannot wait to actually read those stories.

Some of the stories I have read have very funny, smart, and well-written lines. For example, “How in the name of Suzanne Collins are we expected to keep CALM after being given the death sentence?!”. This is a teenager, y’all! And this just reinforces my desire to be a Teen Services Librarian. This special group of young people continue to amaze me, whether with their thoughtful short stories, knowledge of literature (and willingness to discuss it with me), or just general awesomeness. Go teens!

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