Library of Virginia    Encyclopedia Virginia
Virginia Women in History
2018 Student Writing Contest

Contest Overview

Virginia students in grades 6–12 are invited to honor outstanding women in Virginia history by participating in the Virginia Women in History student writing contest sponsored by the Library of Virginia and Encyclopedia Virginia. Four winning essays will be chosen, two from students in grades 6–8, and two from students in grades 9–12.


Growing up in rural Kentucky, Barbara Kingsolver loved to tell stories. She became a science writer and journalist after earning degrees in biology, but in 1987 she set her sights on fiction. Her 1988 book The Bean Trees accelerated a highly acclaimed career spanning books, essays, and articles. Her 1998 novel The Poisonwood Bible was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Kingsolver a National Humanities Medal in 2000 for her advocacy of human rights and the environment through her fiction. She even created and funded her own award, the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Writers like Barbara Kingsolver believe in the power of stories and literature to raise awareness and bring about social change. What is the most inspirational or important book you've read? How did it affect you? Did it change your perspective or spark you to take action on a particular issue? In what way?

Contest Rules

Submit your 400-word essay by Tuesday, March 6, 2018, for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and $250 for your school!

  • Entries must be submitted online to
  • Each entrant must be a student in grade 6–12 at a public or private school in Virginia. Homeschoolers may also apply; the $250 school award can be applied to a homeschooler association if the winner's family has an active, dues-paying membership.
  • There will be four winning essays: two from students in grades 6–8, and two from students in grades 9–12.
  • All entries must be original works that have not been published or submitted for publication anywhere else.
  • Entry should not exceed 400 words.
  • Entries become the property of the Library of Virginia and will not be returned.
  • The Library of Virginia reserves the right to use the winners' names and entries for promotional purposes in all forms of media without notice, review, approval, or compensation, except where prohibited by law.


  • Deadline for entries is Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
  • Winners will be notified by March 14, 2018.
  • Winning essays will be posted to the Library of Virginia website on March 19, 2018.
  • Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 22, 2018, in Richmond.


  • Winning students will receive a Kindle Fire.
  • Winning students' schools will receive a cash award of $250.

Judging Criteria


Reflection of careful and thorough thought


Questions answered and main idea clearly articulated


Relevant, quality details about important thoughts and concepts


Essay flows well and shows good word choice and structure


Correct use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation

Questions? Please call 804-692-3999 or e-mail