New Castle fourth-grader wins Colorado writing award |

New Castle fourth-grader wins Colorado writing award

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Kelley Cox Post Independent

NEW CASTLE, Colorado – It takes a curious boy to write about a curious boy.

Erik Krauth’s short story, “The Curious Boy’s Adventure,” has just won first prize for his grade level in the Young Writer’s Award contest hosted by the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association.

“I like to learn,” said Erik, a fourth-grader at Elk Creek Elementary in New Castle.

“I got the inspiration to write because my teacher, Miss Hesse, has been teaching us about Native Americans. I’ve been learning a lot of new things that I never knew about,” Erik said.

Erik used his curiosity and his imagination to write the 500-word short story over the Thanksgiving holiday, after his teacher asked all her students to write a story for the contest.

“I thought I could write a simple story. I just picked up my pencil and wrote it. I started, and I had ideas pop into my mind,” Erik said.

He didn’t know how the story would go, or what would happen in the end, until he got there.

“Writing is fun. You get to launch your mind into a totally different world. You can become one of the characters you are writing about,” Erik said.

Margaret Hesse, Erik’s teacher, agreed. She tells young writers to “pick something you feel passionate about and are interested in, and the rest will come. Erik proved that.”

Hesse said 10 Elk Creek fourth-graders came back from Thanksgiving break with stories to enter. The school could submit only one story to the contest. Hesse removed the student’s names from the stories, and then sat down with the principal and other teachers to make their choice.

“This year, we have a lot of strong writers overall in the fourth grade,” Hesse said. “It was kind of a tough choice.”

In mid-January, Hesse received a letter from the International Reading Association. Enclosed was a first place certificate for Erik in the third-fourth grade category, along with an invitation to attend the Colorado Council’s annual awards luncheon on Feb. 4 in Denver.

“This is a big deal,” said Hesse. “It’s the whole state of Colorado, so the competition is very big.”

Right away, she shared the news with Erik’s class and with the whole school.

“When I read that letter and announced what he got to do, they were all so very excited. We also had him read his story at the school assembly.”

Erik is following in the footsteps of Riley Bolitho, now a high school student, who won prizes for his stories in the International Reading Association’s contest for the past five years in a row.

Erik attended the awards luncheon with Hesse and with his parents, Mary and Lee Krauth.

The luncheon was held at the Denver Tech Center Marriott hotel. Michael Buckley, author of the “Sisters Gromm” series, “Nerds,” and other books for young people, was the guest speaker.

“He spoke about writing and how neat it is to be in your own world writing, that writers can make the characters be whoever they want them to be,” Mary Krauth said.

Buckley also handed out the awards to the first-, second- and third-place winners in five grade-level categories.

Krauth said her son, the youngest of five children in their family, spends a lot of time reading. Right now, he’s competing in Battle of the Books, and his goal is to read 50 pages a night.

“In the summer, he will lock himself in his closet – it’s nice and big and quiet – and read for hours,” Mary Krauth said. “I’m sure that helps him to be a better writer.”

Erik himself has a few tips for aspiring writers of any age.

“Try to read and re-read your story and revise it a lot. You want to really feel like you are in your story and it’s happening,” he said.

“Your first sentence, first paragraph, should pull the reader into the story. So you need to have a good starter that convinces them to read more,” he said.

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