How does a love of detective novels and Jules Verne land you on the field at a New York Yankees game? Ask eight-year-old Islander Mariam Khelashvili.
The PS/IS 217 student was one of just three winners in a city-wide essay contest held by the New York Public Library (NYPL). The contest asked kids ages six to eighteen to write an essay about how a book they were reading – or just books in general – could help make the world a better place.
Eight-year-old Mariam Khelashvili was one of three NYPL winners
“I thought, ‘That sounds like a fun idea,’” recalls Khelashvili. She says she spent weeks writing and rewriting the essay to perfect it. When her father told her she’d won, she says. “I was so surprised! I seriously started dancing and doing crazy moves all around the room.”
For her prize, Khelashvili gets to attend the August 30 New York Yankees game, where she will get to go to the clubhouse, meet players, and even take a bow on the field.
It will be the first baseball game she’s ever attended.
“I’m so excited,” she says. “I’ve been asking everyone about baseball: what’s it like, who are the players? I thought, ‘I need to know something about baseball before I go to this game!’” In true form, Khelashvili says she been reading up on the topic. “I really want to see my first home run.”
“We are so excited that someone from the Island was chosen,” says Jennifer Minehardt, senior children’s librarian at the Roosevelt Island NYPL branch. Mariam says she was greeted with cheers from the librarians on a recent visit.
“I just love books,” the eight-year-old says. “I couldn’t pass a second of my life without books.”
Here's her winning essay:
How can reading help build a better world
By Mariam Khelashvili, 8 years old
The world is a very busy place. Good people, bad people, small people, big people, all attending to their own business. It is a very pleasant planet. But could it be better?
Most people are honest. And most people are kind. And a lot of people have a lot of good qualities. But some people don’t. For the world to be better, more people must be kind, honest, and caring. More people must be knowledgeable, scientific, and logical. And most importantly, we should be healthy, others should be healthy, and the planet should be healthy. And how should we achieve that? We should read books.
Books fill children’s lives with joy, inspiration, and wonder, but they also inspire them to be kind and to fulfill good deeds. And they also teach you other things, for Jules Verne, a French author in the 19th century, wrote books showing exotic animals never heard of, pointing out certain plans, and wrote about minerals not thought of in youngster minds, so those books teach you science and biology, one of the very important virtues that will make the world a better place. This is only one example of thousands of books with numerous interesting facts and information which will help you greatly in your life.
Then there is “The Secret Garden”, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It already shows the virtue of kindness when Mary and Dickon were helping Colin get to his feet, but it also shows you the skill of gardening, when Mary tends the secret garden, which will lead to another great virtue, caring for our planet.
The cherry tree story about George Washington (actually invented by Parson Weems in 1800) teaches you honesty when Washington said: “I cannot tell a lie” and told the truth, and “Swiss Family Robinson” shows you what a family really is when they hunt game and the mother cooks it, or the whole family goes together on expeditions.
There is a book for every virtue,
There is a line for every deed,
There is a verse for every action,
And a word for all you need.
Without books, the world would not be able to change for the better.