Santa Barbara Reads Writing Contest

‘Indy’ and Public Library Team Up for Community Challenge

October heralds cooler days, fall leaves, and, for the past three years, the Independent and S.B. Public Library’s community essay contest based on the Santa Barbara Reads selection. This year’s tome is Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, the award-winning young adult novel that explores racial and sexual identities, family relationships, and mental-health issues, among other topics. Follow the instructions below and start writing! Winning essays from both categories will be published in the Independent.


Teens (ages 14-18) and Adults (over 18). 


Write a story, poem, or essay inspired by one of the following quotes from the novel:

• “I came to understand that my father was a careful man. To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.”

• “When do we start feeling like the world belongs to us?”

• “I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get—and never would get.”

• “Birds exist to teach us things about the sky. … If we studied birds maybe we could learn to be free.”

The length should be no more than 500 words; essays are due Friday, October 18, by 11:59 p.m. Email submissions and questions to Please include your name and age when submitting your essay.


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