This summer, the New York Public Library (NYPL) asked kids to participate in an NYPL writing contest about the Big Apple, and Valentina Daif, age 7, of Mariners Harbor, was one of the winners!
As part of the annual NYPL Summer Writing Contest, the library asked kids this year to write what they think would happen if the beautiful Statue of Liberty came to life and set out to explore New York City. When Valentina and her mom, Ashley Endall, found out about the contest at the St. George Library, they knew they had to enter, as Valentina is a huge fan of Lady Liberty.
“Valentina has always been interested in visiting the Statue of Liberty but we hadn’t gotten to do it yet,” Endall said. “Every time we would see it in passing on the ferry she would ask if we could go, so I had planned to take her over the summer. Then when I saw the writing contest I knew it was a perfect opportunity.”
The NYPL Writing Contest and a Summer of Experiences
Valentina’s amazing and, quite frankly adorable, story is an adventure starring the little girl herself and her special Lady Liberty doll. One day, the doll comes to life and the two of them, along with Valentina’s mom, go on wonderful adventures throughout the city, meeting many adorable animals and interesting people along the way.
You can read Valentina’s full story here. (Spoiler alert: You’ll be smiling ear-to-ear the whole time!)
Valentina’s story for the NYPL writing contest was based on her real-life experiences visiting NYC points-of-interest this summer.
“We made the experience a part of her writing and several other experiences that followed,” Endall said. “We made the writing similar to the ‘Flat Stanley’ books where we had a Statue of Liberty doll accompany Valentina on all her adventures this summer. She went to the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, the amusement park and beach in Coney Island, the New York Aquarium and Domino Park, and she took a picture with her Statue of Liberty doll and added the pictures to her story.”
Making Writing Fun
Endall knew immediately that the NYPL writing contest would be a great way for Valentina to hone her writing skills. Although the young student loves writing, she struggles with it in school, Endall explained.
“At home she loves journaling and has so many fuzzy journals, so this assignment kind of allowed her to have fun without it feeling like school work,” Endall said. “She felt like she was still journaling because she was explaining different fun things that we actually did on various days. In addition, she illustrated every page so the drawing part also allowed her to get a little more creative and helped her express herself more easily than what she was trying to explain in her writing. The contest was very open ended so the lack of restrictions helped her to be more creative and have fun with it.”
The NYPL writing contest was open to kids ages 6-12 who live or attend school in NYC. First prizes were awarded to one winner each from the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, which are all of the New York Public Library’s service areas. Valentina and the other winners received a special writer’s tool kit and the winning entries will be published in the 2024 edition of “Portal,” the New York Public Library’s magazine for kids.
Valentina also attended a fun ice cream party of which all the contestants in the NYPL writing contest were invited.
When she’s not writing, her interests include singing, dancing, theater and attending CCD at St. Clare’s Church, Great Kills.
Both mother and daughter like to library hop throughout the island, and together the pair will listen to Wonderbooks, hardcover picture books with an audio player built in.
“I’m so proud of Valentina because this summer she tried a lot of new things from writing a book to attending a theater camp in Manhattan where she didn’t know anyone,” Endall said. “She has blown me away with her bravery and determination. I’m so happy that she won, and I hope this encourages her to continue to write.”
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