With thousands of fantastic entries in the Boys’ Life 2017 “Say Yes to Reading!” contest, choosing the winners was tough. Here is the top essay from each age group:
8 AND UNDER CATEGORY
First Place: Aidan Daniel Alexander Morris
The best book I read this year was Incredible You! 10 Ways to Let Your Greatness Shine Through by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Kristina Tracy. In this book, Dr. Dyer and Ms. Tracy encourage children to do their best, like the Scout Oath says.
Children are encourages to share the good and be kind. I try my best to treat others as I would like to be treated, just like the Scout Law. I also encourage other kids to do the same. In this book, children are told to find what they love and what they are passionate about, and do that. I love and am passionate about space, science, swimming, the ocean, biking, reading and being a good Scout. I want to be an astronaut like Ron McNair and a scientist like George Washington Carver and an inventor like Thomas Edison. I also want to help protect the ocean like Jacques Cousteau. My family and I help to protect the seas from pollution. We do this with the St. Croix Environmental Association. I also want to help other kids learn how to read well. I win the leadership award in my class for helping kids in my class improve up their reading.
Dy. Dyer and Ms. Tracy said that children should find a quiet place in side. i think that means to be reverent like the Scout Law. They also said that children should make everyday great. And to chance their thoughts to good and take care of themselves. I think that this means to be cheerful and positive. I try to be cheerful and positive. Taking care of yourself is like being clean. The authors also said that children should picture what they want. I picture all the things I want to do because they may come true. I want to be an astronaut. They also said that everyone is special — and I believe this.
After I read the book, I feel as if I can do anything. I think this book helped me become a better person and a better Scout.
9- & 10-YEAR-OLD CATEGORY
First Place: Joseph Or
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is my favorite book of the year. It’s about August Pullman, who was born with a facial difference that prevented him from going to mainstream school. I was so touched by this heartwarming story, by the characters, and the messages throughout the story.
First, Wonder is such a touching and heartwarming story. It showcased bravery from Auggie, change from Julian and kindness from Summer and Jack. This story made me laugh and cry.
Second, the characters are so realistic. There were nice kids, mean kids and weird kids. The main character, Auggie, was a boy who got picked on by Julian. But Auggie was brave to face challenges and cope with range of negative reactions in class. Lots of characters started by being mean and inconsiderate. By the end, I learned most of the kids were just scared by Auggie’s unusual appearance.
Third, the book was beautifully written with meaningful messages, It shows how bullying can hurt someone. Auggie thought that he was ugly and wanted to quit school after he was bullied by Julian. He was suffering from low self-esteem, More importantly, I learned that we should not judge a person by the way he looks, but by their inner character. The book is truly a wonder in that way.
11–YEARS-OLD AND UP CATEGORY
First Place: Karan Bhasin
My favorite book was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. It follows the lives of two men who are polar opposites, George, a quick-witted, caring man, and Lennie, a mentally-impaired but hardworking laborer. Lennie is often an immense burden for George, and this causes George to question his decision to care for Lennie. However, the strong bond of friendship holds the two together through thick and thin, despite Lennie’s constant antics.
The book begins with George and Lennie finishing the journey from their previous workplace to a new farm where they hope to find work. They stop for the night, and Lennie asks George to describe their “dream.” George describes a farm that the two of them hope to obtain, with a house, animals and workers. While it is made apparent that George and Lennie both want to achieve this goal, there are specific things that seem more important to each of them. Lennie’s dream is to have rabbits that he can tend to. George aspires to live with no one to tell them hat to do, and no one that they are obligated to hide Lennie’s mental impairments from.
Late in the novel, their dream becomes even more of a reality when a fellow worker, Candy, offer $350 to help pa for the farm. However, their dreams are crushed when Lennie kills a dog and a woman. Curley, the woman’s husband, gathers a group of men and orders Lennie to be killed for his crime Knowing that Lennie is going to die, George restates their dream to Lennie. in order to save Lennie from a violent death at the hands of the mob, George shoots Lennie moments before the gang arrives.
This book taught me some important values that are similar to those in Scouting. For example, the value of friendship. During the Great Depression, most men were lonely. George and Lennie had a unique friendship and they cared about each other. They traveled together, they faced adversity together, and they celebrated together.
I have also learned from both the novel and Scouting the importance of hard work and independence. Just like Lennie and George who had to work hard to make their dreams come true.
This novel also taught me about standing up for myself. Lennie was not as bright as everyone else in the book, but he was very hardworking. George stuck by his side. These qualities of some of the characters in the book made me more proud of myself.