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Announcing the Winners of the 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 had the honor of hosting a unique essay contest for children in grades 3-5.

Focusing on current events, students were 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 have been coming up for them during these turbulent times in support of positive social emotional development. Thank you to all the students who entered the contest, and to the parents and teachers who encouraged and supported them. Congratulations to all the winners!

Prize Winners

First Place ($250)  Serena Prince, grade 5,  P.S. 119 Amersfort

Second Place ($100) Saphira Li, grade 3, P.S. 11

Third Place ($75) Lucia Weissman, grade 5, P.S. 39 The Henry Bristow School

Honors ($50)

  • Linh Kirk Sopher, grade 4, P.S. 139 Alexine A. Fenty School
  • Lorelei Schaary, grade 4, German School Brooklyn
  • Esther Motia, grade 5, P.S. 321 William Penn
  • Chase Aberle, grade 4, German School Brooklyn
  • Billie Jordan, grade 3, P.S.130 The Parkside School

Honorable mentions

  • Ariana Abreu, grade 3, P.S. 312 Bergen Beach
  • Jamie McNair, grade 4, P.S. 312 Bergen Beach
  • Halcyanna Pasternak, grade 3, P.S. 130 Parkside School
  • Anaya Wilson, grade 5, The New American Academy Charter School


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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