Young writers debut their books

Knox Junior High School eighth grader Madison King reads her story, "Jake's Socks," to participants of the Preschool Story Time Hour Tuesday at the Johnstown Public Library. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Some enraptured preschoolers got the opportunity to take part in storytime with original authors Tuesday morning at the Johnstown Public Library.

Students winners of the Friends of the Johnstown Public Library’s annual Storybook Writing Contest showed off their talents to young children during Preschool Story Time in the library basement.

According to event Chairperson Sharon Ritzman, students read their own creative books to the preschoolers. They participated in the contest as Knox Junior High School seventh-grade students. She offered a “congratulations” to all the winners.

“It’s part of the seventh grade curriculum,” said Ritzman, a former president of the Great Johnstown School District Board of Education.

But after the contest concludes, the Knox students get to actually read their contest-winning books the following school year as eighth graders.

Participating Tuesday in the Friends of the Johnstown Public Library's Storybook Writing Contest were these Knox Junior High School eighth grader, left to right: Madison King, Peyton Bush, Alex Cwiakala, Larkin Sardella and Konner Mancini. Absent from the photo was Kevin Rankins-Bloom. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

This year’s winners and their storybook titles were: first place tie, Konner Mancini for “The Bunny Named Pickle” and Kevin Rankins-Bloom for “The Adventures of Pengie and Jack;” second place — Larkin Sardella for “Jimmy’s Big Fight;” third place — Alex Cwiakala for “Paul the Porcupine Finds Friends;” fourth place — Peyton Bush for ‘The Spell;” and honorable mention — Madison King for “Jake’s Socks.”

Winners received a certificate and cash prize provided by the Friends of the Johnstown Public Library.

The winning stories are being displayed in the library’s Children’s Room through December.

Ritzman said the Friends of the Johnstown Public Library receives great cooperation from the school district for the annual writing contest. The contest serves dual purposes of encouraging junior high students to write creatively and illustrate their own stories, and feature them to a young audience of eager preschool listeners.

Numerous Knox students participate in the Storybook Writing Contest. Ritzman said works are judged by a group of retired teachers.

Friends of the Johnstown Public Library is not only involved in this program, but other efforts at the 38 S. Market St. facility. Friends works year-round to assist the library in various ways: fundraising, volunteering, and networking. The group underwrites the library’s annual Summer Reading Program, purchases the library’s public use computers, and sponsors occasional adult programming.

The group accepts public donations and meets periodically at the library.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at