Everyone’s educational journey is different. But whether you’re a math prodigy, a writing whiz or a future business leader, your education will still have one fundamental building block: reading.
Reading is a crucial part of every level of education, from preschool to grad school. And if you find yourself buried in books outside the classroom as well, your love of reading could pay off in the form of college scholarships for readers, writers and book lovers.
[Take a look at more college scholarships for book lovers.]
You don’t have to be in high school to start turning your love of literature into college cash, either. Students as young as fourth grade can participate in the Library of Congress Letters About Literature essay contest.
To enter, just read a book, speech or poem, then write a letter to its author, telling him or her how the work affected you personally. States select winners at each of three age groups, ranging from fourth through twelfth grades, and national winners at each level can earn a $1,000 prize in addition to their state award.
Entry forms are not yet available for 2015, but the deadline is usually in December for high school entrants and January for grade school and middle school students.
High school readers should also check out the National English Honor Society scholarship program for high school seniors. Each year, the society selects one book as its “common reader” for the year, and awards scholarships up to $5,000 based on essays about the book.
The common reader for 2014-2015 is Neal Shusterman’s novel “Unwind.” Check it out over the summer and you’ll be ready to answer the essay prompts that will be posted in early November.
[Consider applying to scholarship contests for aspiring poets and writers.]
When I was in college, my own love of books led me to a job as a bookseller. If you’re a student following the same route, or if you have a parent who owns or works at a bookstore, check out the Higher Education Scholarship Program from the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.
The foundation provides booksellers, their dependents and former employees or dependents of Borders Group stores with substantial scholarship assistance. In 2014 the foundation awarded two $10,000 scholarships and 51 scholarships worth $3,500. Applications open for next year’s program in January, so don’t forget to check back.
Plenty of book lovers also pursue careers in the world of library and information sciences. These jobs typically require a master’s degree, and the extra years of school can increase your costs.
To help pay for your library education, your first stop should be the American Library Association, which offers a host of scholarships for higher education, as well as grants for professional development and projects at your library. Your master’s program is also likely to provide scholarships, especially if you’re a returning student.
[Use Summer to get a jump on essay-based scholarship applications.]
In addition to these careers, your favorite authors and genres could also pay off. If you can’t get enough British literature, check out the Jane Austen Society of North America’s essay contest, which awards scholarships ranging from $250 to $1,000. Essay topics for 2015 will be published in November.
If sci-fi and fantasy are your thing, consider submitting a story or illustration to the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. Three amateur writers and three amateur illustrators earn quarterly cash prizes, and all winners compete for a $5,000 annual prize.
And, finally, if you’re a fan of James Patterson’s thrillers, don’t miss out on the Patterson Scholarships, awarded to students at the author and his wife’s alma maters, and to aspiring teachers at select other schools.