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First Place
“Locked out of Kindergarten” by Kateri Escober Doran, 12
Second Place
“Swirling Arabesques” by Zoe Kyriakakis, 10
Third Place
“Gratitude” by Alicia Xin, 13
Honorable Mention
“Cody’s Last Day” by Elena Baltz, 10
“A Story” by Asher Jenvey, 10
“Life in the Jungle” by Arielle Kouyoumdjian, 13
“Writer” by Vandana Ravi, 13
“Believing” by Lily Shi, 11
“Kingdom in the River” by Lydia Taylor, 13
“Gentle Hands” by Michelle Wang, 12


We are delighted to announce the winners of our Personal Narrative Contest with the Society of Young Inklings (SYI). Naomi Kinsman, Founder and Executive Director of SYI and Emma Wood, Stone Soup's Editor, were both so honored to read these submissions as well as grateful for the big and small ways these writers let us into their minds and hearts.

Writing nonfiction seems easy—you don’t have to make anything up!—but it is not. Personal narratives require honesty, deep thought and reflection, the ability to see patterns and narratives in past events, as well as the capacity to accept that sometimes there are no patterns or narratives—just the events themselves. Like all writing, they also require an eye for detail, an ear for language, and an aptitude for play.

In her winning narrative, Kateri Escober Doran vividly recounts a sharp memory from a day in kindergarten, seamlessly blending evocative storytelling with thoughtful reflection. In second place, with “Swirling Arabesques,” Zoe Kyriakakis meditates on a single phrase while on the bus home from school—showing us how even the smallest moments can become meaningful and beautiful in the writer’s hands. Finally, in third place, with her narrative “Gratitude,” Alicia Xin gives a moving account of the summer she spent in a historically poor county in rural China.

We are excited to share these pieces with you in future issues of Stone Soup Magazine (and will add links to this page as they are published). We say this every time, but every time it is truer and truer: it was so difficult to select winners and finalists for this contest. A sincere thank you to everyone who trusted us with their work.

Remember, we are thrilled to be reading personal narrative submissions year-round, not only during the contest. When you’re ready, submit your personal narrative here.

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