Nineteen-Year-Old Wins the Reading is Fundamental Scholarship to the Winter Story Summit
A writer from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mariah Mayhugh, 19, has won the Reading is Fundamental Writing Scholarship from the Winter Story Summit for her picture book entry, Mimi. Reading is Fundamental is the largest non-profit children’s literacy organization in the United States.
Mariah Mayhugh is awarded the full-tuition scholarship for “Best Children’s Story” in what became “a very competitive field,” says David Paul Kirkpatrick, the Founder of Story Summit and a former President of Paramount Pictures. “When her photo came through an email, I was surprised how young Mariah was. It once again demonstrates that talent can be discovered at any age.” Mariah becomes the Winter Story Summit’s youngest participant at 19.
The college student won for her children’s book, Mimi: A Story About Absence Seizures. The book is told in first person by a second grade protagonist who grapples with absence epilepsy.
“I have learned how valuable simple stories are to explain complex concepts,” says Mariah who describes herself as an epilepsy advocate. “I never had this sort of book to explain what epilepsy was to me when I was diagnosed at age seven. There are no children’s books about absence epilepsy readily available, so Mimi is unique. I know it would help a lot of kids, teachers, and parents who mistake the seizures for daydreaming or bad listening.”
Debra Engle is a best-selling author with her new novel, Twenty, in bookstores in January 2020. She will be mentoring Mariah at the Winter Story Summit. “I cast my vote for Mariah’s story not only because of its imaginative style but because of the educational value. I’ve never heard of absence seizures before, and I think the book could help educate a lot of parents (and maybe teachers, too) about the condition.”
“Children’s stories may be the most important stories of all,” says Ed DeLeon, Chief Program Officer for Reading is Fundamental. “It’s where young ones are introduced to love, hope and imagination. Reading is Fundamental is delighted to encourage the storytellers of tomorrow and especially Mariah Mayhugh.”
“This decision was a tough one,” says Rosa Salazar, a mentor at the summit and a top writer for Televisa. “Because there was so much talent in the Reading is Fundamental competition, the summit is extending Founder Awards to the eight finalists.”
“Attending the summit is important to me because I would learn how to better craft my story, “ says Mariah. “ I want to go on to publish more books about childhood epilepsy such as myoclonic epilepsy, sensory epilepsy, and even a simple rhyming book for toddlers to understand epilepsy.”
“Attending the summit would equip me to write these books, publish, and market them to help thousands of kids. I would like to gain knowledge from professional writers and gain insight from peers who may or may not know anything about epilepsy. Obtaining insight from those unfamiliar with epilepsy, but skilled in writing, would be invaluable.”
The Winter Story Summit begins on February 22, 2020 aboard the Royal Caribbean’s majestic Independence of the Seas. Reading is Fundamental is the final award program for the Winter Story Summit, but there is some grant money available for last-minute registrants. To apply for a grant, go here. A writing sample of at least 1500 words must accompany the application.
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is committed to a literate America by inspiring a passion for reading among all children, providing quality content to create impact, and engaging communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success. As the nation’s largest nonprofit organization for children’s literacy, RIF has provided more than 416 million books to 50 million kids in all 50 states, inspiring generations to read, learn and grow.
Story Summits acknowledge, refresh and inspire gifted writers in an immersive and inviting global setting. A stimulating community of successful writers guide Summit participants in completing writing projects, the goal being to launch scripts and novels as commercial products. Go here for more information on the summits.