Kids' Reading Series Brings Amateur Authors to Neighborhood Businesses

By Nikhita Venugopal on December 6, 2013 11:26am 

 A reading at Lost Lit, a writing workshop that takes place monthly in the back of Grumpy Bert's store. 
A reading at Lost Lit, a writing workshop that takes place monthly in the back of Grumpy Bert's store. 
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Atlantic Avenue BID

COBBLE HILL — A new holiday reading series for children will bring amateur authors to Atlantic Avenue shops to showcase their work.

Eight finalists of the Atlantic Avenue Children’s Literature Contest, a competition for unpublished writers to submit a short story for children, will read at restaurants and stores including Grumpy Bert and Table 87 beginning this weekend.

For a local twist, each story must be connected to Atlantic Avenue or the surrounding neighborhoods like Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill, said Josef Szende, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, the organization hosting the event.

Children between 3 and 5 years old are welcome to attend the readings that will also feature original and selected pieces, free bookmarks, hot chocolate from Sahadi’s and a chance for kids to vote for their favorite story.

When Barbara DiLorenzo was planning her story for the contest, her mind wandered to ancient myths that were based on Atlantic Avenue. After some research, she found a story about an underground tunnel that runs through busy commercial stretch.

And so her story followed a six6year-old girl who stumbles upon the tunnel while searching for a dragon, said DiLorenzo, 38, who is a finalist and will be reading on Dec. 21.

But the contest’s focus on small business is what really appealed to DiLorenzo.

“A contest like this just shows the difference between small business and big-box stores,” she said

Judges will be present at each reading to choose the top three stories whose writers will receive cash prizes of $1,000, $300 and $100 respectively.

Melissa Guion, a contest judge, advises authors to practice reading their stories several times and engage with their audience while speaking.

Guion, who wrote “Baby Penguins Everywhere!,” will be judging authors on their ability to interact with the children while reading their story out loud – a first for many amateur writers, she said.

“For authors, that’s a really important step,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to learn.”

Here’s the schedule for the children’s reading series. RSVP here:

December 7:
10 a.m: Sahadi's: Ruth Chan, "Where's Bernie?"
11 a.m: Nest Egg Kids: Buzz Koenig "Cookie Store Wanted"
12 p.m: Elite Optique: Stephanie Lane Elliott "Raccoons!"

December 14
10 a.m: Flor: Kevin Maerteens "Quattro Formaggi"
11 a.m: Grumpy Bert: Dana A. Catherine "Jupi's Journey" & Sarah Heller "Our Walk"

December 21
10 a.m: The Herbe Shoppe: Graham Willner "Flight"
11 a.m: Table 87: Barbara DiLorenzo "Atlantic Avenue Dragon"
12:30 p.m: Gumbo: Kristabelle Munson "Miles and the Garden."

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