Cornerstones of Science announces the annual Read, Write & Win contest for students in grades 3-12.

Entry Deadline:  Entry deadline April 5th, 2013.

Purpose: The successful program, now in its 9th year, seeks to:

  • Enhance school curricula with excellent nonfiction science books
  • Reinforce essay-writing and critical-thinking skills
  • Foster development of STEM interests and careers
  • Offer opportunities for students to express scientific ideas through original art
  • Encourage students to develop and share their views on science and the world around them


Science learning is most effective when it stems from an individual’s natural curiosity about the world and is deepened through the intimacy of reading high-quality scientific literature.  To encourage reading of science books at an early age, Cornerstones developed the Read, Write & Win program.  Promoted through librarians and science teachers, students select a science book and write a review or submit an illustration inspired by the book.

Participation & Awards:

Awards are given to the top 3 winners in each grade, in both the essay and art portions of the contest.  Cornerstones also provides gift certificates to the teachers of participating classrooms.


Submission Guidelines:

The 2013 submission guidelines:

1. Select a book from the Cornerstones of Science Book List [add hyperlink] or talk to your librarian for more suggestions.

  • You may search this list by topic, author, title, or reading level (children, teens, and adults). Be sure you are in the right section, as most books are specific to each location.
  • Read the annotations (short descriptions) for the books you are considering. This will help you choose a book that is of most interest to you.

2. Get a copy of the book from your school or local library (which can submit an inter-library loan request if they do not have it in their collection).

3. Read the book, jotting down notes about what you find most interesting (noting page numbers so you can refer back to these sections).

4. Write an interesting and creative review (English only, please), using standard format with an introduction, body and conclusion. Include your name, grade, school address & teacher OR parent’s names & home address at the bottom of the review. You can read past winning reviews on the Cornerstones website [add hyperlink].

5. If you prefer, you can submit an original illustration inspired by the book (on 8-1/2x 11 inch paper). NOTE: Do not just copy an illustration from the book: draw your own idea and write an accompanying paragraph explaining why the book inspired you to draw. Write your name, grade, school address & teacher OR parent’s names & home address on the back of the illustration.

6. Submit your entry by April 5th, 2013.

Questions?  Contact

Online submissions are preferred. If you have any trouble with the on-line entry form, you may email your entry to  . Please write “Read, Write and Win 2013? in subject line of your e-mail. Do not compress or zip your file, please send as a Word, Rich text or PDF document. Artwork may be sent electronically (scanned and file attached).


Elements of a Book Review:

Please use the standard writing format of introduction, body & conclusion. We recommend keeping your review to a page and no more than 300 words. Use the information below to help guide your writing, but remember to use your own words and be creative. In choosing your book, note that you may choose a science-related book that is not currently a Cornerstones nominee, but please include your reasons for nominating it in your review.


  • Brief overview of the book (including title and author’s name) and your overall impression.

JUDGE’S TIP #1: Be especially creative at the start of your review… remember it is with these first several sentences that you’re trying to grab the attention of the reader.


  • Explain your opinion with several examples.
  • Use your own words to tell what you liked and disliked about the book.
  • Discuss the illustrations or pictures, if included. Do you have suggestions for improving them?
  • Is a glossary, list of additional related reading, or sources for more information included in the book? If so, was this information useful to you?
  • Tell more about what you learned from the book and what it was about.

JUDGE’S TIP #2: Is there a fun fact, or a great bit of information that others would find interesting too? If so, tell us. Tell us how reading the book made you feel… did it amaze you, or make you ask more questions and wonder about the topic? Tell us!


  • Restate in a new way your overall opinion of the book.
  • Would you give this book a five out of five star rating? Tell us what rating you would give the book.
  • Did this book make you want to learn more about the topic?
  • Would you recommend this book to your friends? Or family?

JUDGE’S TIP #3: Read other book reviews – in the newspaper, in magazines, and online. What information do you expect to get out of them? What do you enjoy most about reading them? Create your own review-writing style by learning what you like most about other writer’s book reviews.


Reminder: A creative, well-written, and interesting book review garners more points than a review that reads as a check-list of the requirements.


Submission Deadline:

The deadline for the 2013 contest is Friday, March 22, 2013. Essay submissions are submitted via an on-line entry form, and illustrations are to be mailed to: 2013 Read, Write & Win, Cornerstones of Science, PO Box 955, Brunswick, Maine 04011. For more information, contact Director of Science Communications, Dave Carpenter at 207-208-8975 or email