Carissa George, a sixth-grader at Springfield Middle School, was named a state finalist in a summer writing contest sponsored by the Library of Congress. The essay contest, A Book That Shaped Me, asked rising fifth- and sixth-grade students to reflect on a book that made a personal impact on their lives, and was administered through nearly 300 local public libraries in the Mid-Atlantic region, including the Free Library of Springfield Township.
George was selected as one of five state finalists from Pennsylvania. She received a gift card and was honored along with other state finalists and grand prize winners at a ceremony on October 18th at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
When I was up on stage with the other four finalists from Pennsylvania, I felt ecstatic! It was a rush of pride and nervousness all at the same time.
She also noted that the ceremony felt special because a Washington Post writer was in the audience to congratulate all the finalists.
The book that George chose to write about in her essay was Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
When I heard about the contest, my mind instantly went to Esperanza Rising. I remembered reading it in fourth grade and it is one of my favorite books because I could connect to Esperanza’s feelings, the main character, who is my age. She went through many challenges in the book such as losing her father, which I could connect to when my uncle suddenly died last year.
George also wrote about how the book has allowed her to be thankful for the wonderful things in her life and has inspired her to help others who are less fortunate.
After reading Esperanza Rising I felt grateful for my wonderful house, clothes and family and instantly knew I wanted to help other kids in need.
After deciding to take action, she discovered a charity called the Pajama Program, which provides new pajamas and books to children in need.
The family coordinated with the children’s librarian at the Free Library of Springfield Township to request donations of pajamas and books at the library’s monthly Pajama Storytime in September. The event was a huge success, and George and her family were able to deliver the large number of donations to a local organization helping children and families in need.
I was so impressed with her determination and willingness to help others. Also, I was very proud that she was recognized for her essay and so excited that the library could play a small role in helping her to have such a special experience.
-Amy Ambler, children’s librarian