Exams, graduation and leaving for college can be overwhelming for even the most studious kids. Now, imagine writing a book, too.
College scholarship money can drive some students to push themselves past their limits. After all, every dollar helps, especially when you have been accepted to Northeastern University to study chemical engineering like 2014 Charter School of Wilmington graduate Monica Keszler.
Keszler’s mother first told her about the possibility of a $5,000 scholarship earlier this year. The contest, hosted by B’nai B’rith International, a human rights organization, asks students to pen a children’s book that promotes tolerance and diversity.
With five advanced placement classes and an 11 p.m. bedtime, Keszler said the whole process, tedious as it was, still only took her about a month to complete. She was exhausted when it was finally complete but thrilled when she eventually learned that she won the top prize. In addition to the scholarship, Keszler’s book has also been professionally published. The books are not for sale, though. Most are donated to the “TODAY Show Toy Drive” or given out at book-signings and book readings. The rest are given to the author.
Keszler’s book, “Kira Kiwi, How Will School Be” follows a flightless Kiwi bird that is nervous about attending bird school. The flyer her mom brought home only shows birds that can fly. Kira Kiwi is worried that she won’t fit in and won’t have anything in common with the other birds. But, when she gets to school, she discovers that there are other birds like her there. She also discovers that both flying and flightless birds still have much in common, from how they learn to how they play.
But, Kira is still bothered by the flyer. She wants the principal to change it so that prospective bird students, regardless of wing-size or flight ability, will see themselves represented.
“My book wound up being not only about self-acceptance but about media representation, too,” Keszler explained. It’s a really important topic to cover because a lot of media is really white-washed with a lot of white, male characters. But, America is so much more than that. It’s a melting pot. The reality is that there’s going to be a lot of different cultures who want to see themselves represented in the media. And, they deserve it.”
Last week, Kezzler gave out signed copies of “Kira Kiwi” at the Elsmere, Corbit-Calloway Memorial and Kirkwood Highway Libraries. Her next book reading will be at 2 p.m., Tuesday, July 29 at Woodlawn Library in Wilmington. Books will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.