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Announcing a New Essay Contest for Students in Grades 3-5

For 34 years, New York City public schoolchildren have written and illustrated enough books to fill a small library by participating in the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition. The program is the result of a longstanding partnership between the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, Brooklyn Public Library, and the New York City Department of Education.  Due to the pandemic, the competition was postponed in 2021.  In its place, Brooklyn Public Library has the honor of hosting a unique essay contest for children in grades 3-5.

Focusing on current events, students are encouraged to write about their circumstances around the pandemic, lack of socialization, coping skills, anti-racism, school and family life, the election, and any emotions that may be coming up for them during these turbulent times in support of positive social emotional development. 

How to Enter

Submissions of 250–500-word essays will be accepted from February 1 to March 15, 2021.  Contestants may submit one entry per person.  Open to residents of New York City. To find the form, click here or on the tab above.


Three prizes will be offered: First Place ($250.00), Second Place ($100) and 5 honorable mentions ($50 each).  

Winners will be announced in Spring 2021.  The winning seven essays plus one honor essay from each grade will be posted here in a web journal in May 2021.  


Ezra Jack Keats FoundationAbout the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation:
The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has actively fostered children’s creativity and love of reading since 1985. The Foundation awards 70 EJK Mini-Grants annually to public schools and libraries, for arts and literacy programs, across 50 states; administers the EJK Bookmaking Competition, grades 3-12, in the nation's largest school system, for 34 years running; and, with the EJK Award, has encouraged over 90 exceptional early career authors and illustrators to create children’s books that reflect our diverse culture. In celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the EJK Award, the Foundation launched a year-long public awareness and educational campaign in June 2020.

For information about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, please visit


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