Our 15th Annual Summer Reading Contest

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Our 15th Annual Summer Reading Contest

And, too, at a time when some educators are alarmed by the ability of chatbots to do students’ work for them, this is a contest that rewards the human touch. As our step-by-step guide to participating shows, what we’re looking for are genuine personal connections to the news, explored with voice, style and personality — something A.I. can’t (yet?) do with anywhere near the verve of the teenagers we hear from.

Another reason? For some teachers, assigning the contest over the summer helps them to quickly get to know their new students when school starts. In our related webinar, Karen Gold, English department chair at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass., details how she uses the contest in this way.

But maybe the most compelling reason to assign this contest is what students themselves say about it. In 2017, Emma Weber, a student from London, posted that, thanks to the contest, “I feel grounded in my views and understand what’s going on in the world. It’s amazing what a change 1,500 characters a week make.” In 2020 we invited Emma to help judge the entries, and here is what she had to say after Week 10:

I know firsthand that the Summer Reading Contest has the ability to change the way one engages in the news — I went from passively reading to actively thinking and questioning. The more you reflect on what is going on in the world and what interests you about it, the more you will understand your place within it. I urge all those who enjoyed participating this summer to continue reading, reflecting and writing.

Thank you for making this contest a hit year after year, and please spread the word that it’s back for its 15th season.

Good luck!

Any 13- to 19-year-old anywhere in the world is invited to join us, if you are in middle or high school, or if you graduated from high school and haven’t yet started college.

Every Friday starting on June 7, we’ll post a fresh version of this question: “What got your attention in The Times this week?” We will link to each week’s version at the top of this post. Here is an example from last summer. How you respond to this question will depend on your age and whether you are choosing to respond via writing or video, but all responses will be judged together.

For written responses: