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2020 Young Authors winners announced

Write what you know is common but valuable advice for fledgling authors, and seventh-grader Rylie Amundson knows everything about her family cabin.

Rylie’s book “At Our Cabin,” was among 10 selected by judges this year in Woodstock Community Unit School District 200’s Young Authors competition. The Creekside Middle School student will join her fellow winning students at the state Young Authors Conference May 16 in Bloomington.

Dedicated to her grandfather who built the family cabin in Galena, Rylie’s story builds on her reflections on fishing, tubing and kayaking but mostly on family bonding. 

“‘I remember.’ Those are powerful words. You can use them to tell a story, write a book, or cheer you or someone else up. For me, all of those have happened. For me, the words ‘I remember’ have a lot of meaning,” she wrote.

Rylie said she’s honored that a panel of teachers and community volunteers enjoyed her book and thinks they’d like her cabin as much as she does. “It’s a place that’s really close to my heart. It’s a place where my family has come together and made a safe environment where I can kind of find myself.”

English is her favorite subject, and she hopes to be a journalist someday. “I want to travel the world and write stories about the places I go, the people I meet and what I do,” Rylie said.

Kristen Sauber, a District 200 literacy and technology coach who helps coordinate Young Authors, said participation in the program is a great way to motivate students and encourage the creative process.

“We hope that students feel a sense of accomplishment as they work through the process of taking their idea to a published work. We hope they develop a love of writing and enjoy finding their own voice,” she said.

District 200’s other winners and their titles included:

  • Olivia Gustafson, 2nd grade, Olson Elementary School, “Air Monkey.”
  • Hazeleigh Rosemann, 3rd grade, Westwood Elementary School, “The Out of This World Adventures of Laine and Todd.”
  • Elsie Kolpfenstein, kindergarten, Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center, “Buzz Buzz is Lost”
  • Stephanie Davila, 4th grade, Mary Endres Elementary School, “Kiwi el Koala/Kiwi the Koala.”
  • Martha Baker, 5th grade, Prairiewood Elementary School, “Traffic Troubles.”
  • Bryce Schwanke, 4th grade, Dean Street Elementary School, “Investigation 47.”
  • Chloe Albrecht, 5th grade, Greenwood Elementary School, “How the Lobes Met: A Brainy Adventure.”
  • Noah Folden, 4th grade, Clay Academy, “The Villians vs The Heroes.”
  • Joseph Gerloff, 8th grade, Northwood Middle School, “The Observer.”

Sauber said the state conference gives students opportunities to meet other writers from across Illinois who love reading and writing as much as they do. Students participate in writing workshops, and read excerpts from their own books.