Prizes including $50 BookSmart gift certificates available for winners of essay contest

South Valley residents launched the Gift of Reading program for the 2017 holiday season at a special cidar and donuts party at the former BookSmart store.

By Staff Report

Kids who love reading and writing will want to put pen to paper for the Booksmart Community Foundation’s young writers essay contest. The competition encourages children and teens to describe “Why reading books is important for you!” as its theme this year. It’s all part of the 2019 Gift of Reading initiative, encouraging area students to reflect on why reading and books have been so important to them.

The essay requirements are a limit of between 200 and 300 words. Submit your printed or hand-written essay to BookSmart at 421 Vineyard Town Center. Make sure you include the child’s name, parents’ names, phone number, email address, school, and grade level. Entries are due by 7 p.m. Nov. 30.

Winners will be chosen in each of the following grade level groups: 2nd-5th grade, 6th-8th grade, and 9th-12th grade.

Judges will include Marty Cheek, publisher of Morgan Hill Life; Jordan Rosenfeld, a local author/editor/writing teacher; Rene Spring, Morgan Hill Mayor Pro-Tem; and Cinda Meister, Co-Owner, BookSmart as well as one more judge yet to be confirmed.

Potential Prizes for three winners in each age group are: 1st Place will receive a $50 BookSmart Gift Certificate and a Cool Journal from BookSmart; 2nd Place will receive a BookSmart Gift Certificate and a journal; and 3rd Place will receive a BookSmart Gift Certificate and a journal. First-place winning essay will be published in Morgan Hill Life issues starting in Janaury. Winners will receive a certificate and a mention at a City Council meeting.

About the Gift of Reading:

The Gift of Reading program is a holiday tradition providing books to needy and underserved children in the Bay Area. BookSmart Community Advantage, the non-profit foundation associated with local bookstore BookSmart, every year partners with other local organizations to sponsor this year’s drive to provide books in the Morgan Hill and San Martin area.

The foundation is partnering with the Friends of the Morgan Hill Library and Cecilia’s Closet (the Edward Boss Prado Foundation) to spread the gift of literacy and love of books to children in our local community. Additional Gift of Reading Morgan Hill supporters include Sonrisa Stables, Morgan Hill Life, and AAUW-Morgan Hill.

The organizations are collecting new and like-new books for elementary-age children (grades K to 6) at collection points at BookSmart (421 Vineyard Town Center), the Morgan Hill Library (660 West Main Ave.), and other locations around town. Look for the cheerfully wrapped bins.  The collection deadline is Friday, Dec. 6. The books will be distributed by Cecelia’s Closet to needy children through the Morgan Hill Unified School District. The donated books will go to underserved children, and to help teachers build classroom libraries for the children they teach — increasing the student’s chances at long-term academic success. In some families these books may be the only holiday gift a child will receive.

As part of this program, BookSmart is offering a 20% discount on books purchased for Gift of Reading. Cash donations are also welcome.

Volunteers are also needed to transport books to Cecelia’s Closet on Peebles Avenue and to sort them by age groups and condition.

About BookSmart Community Advantage (BCA):

The mission of BookSmart Community Advantage is to foster literacy and community through reading, writing, art and educational programs. BCA was formed in January 2017. It is part of the Morgan Hill Community Foundation and is closely aligned with BookSmart which has been operating in Morgan Hill for over 20 years. BCA’s Signature Program is The Gift of Reading Morgan Hill in partnership with the Friends of the Morgan Hill Library and the Edward Boss Prado Foundation. The program gives a new or like-new book and, thus, the gift of literacy and love of books, to children in our community.


Marty Cheek