Black Hills Reads Events

Cover of The Tale of Despereaux book next to a blue tote bag that says Explore Your Next Chapter, Discover Your Excitement.

2023 Young Readers Festival

Black Hills, South Dakota

September 21 - 22, 2023

Black Hills Reads and the Black Hills Literacy Committee are pleased to partner once again with the SD Humanities Council and the SD Statewide Family Engagement Center to bring 3rd grade students across the Black Hills the 2023 Young Readers One Book South Dakota: The Tale of Despereaux written by Kate DiCamillo!

Meet the author, Kate DiCamillo!

Students will have an opportunity to meet the author of this year's book IN PERSON during the 2023 Young Readers Festival in Rapid City on September 21st, or in Lead on September 22nd.

Note: Educators throughout the Black Hills should have already received communication about how to sign up your students for the event. If you still need to sign up or need more information, please contact the Black Hills Reads Director at

Additional evening sessions with Kate DiCamillo will be open to the public on both days. For more information about the public events being offered, visit the Festival of Books website.

Learn more about this year's programming:

Young Writers 3rd Grade Writing Contest

Sharpen your pencils!

The 2023 Young Writers Contest is here!

Who: Any 3rd grade student in the Black Hills!

What: Write either a short story (300 words maximum) or poem about UNLIKELY HERO OR EXPLORING YOUR NEXT CHAPTER

Deadline: October 15, 2023

Prizes: EVERY 3rd grader who enters the contest will receive a free ticket to a RUSH game! Plus, the first-place winner in each category will get a special visit from Nugget at school, and they will win a family pass to a RUSH game!

Contest Entry Guidelines

Any 3rd grade student in a Black Hills school is eligible to participate in this contest. To be eligible, participants must include the following information when submitting their writing for this contest:

  • Student’s First and Last Name
  • Teacher and/or Parent/Guardian’s Name
  • School or Organization
  • Town/City
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address

To Enter:

Students may submit either handwritten OR typed documents, electronically or by traditional mail.

If submitting electronically, please email your submission to Feel free to scan or take pictures of handwritten work and send electronically.

If submitting by traditional mail, students should send their entries to:

Young Writers 3rd Grade Contest

c/o United Way of the Black Hills

621 6th St. #100

Rapid City, SD 57701

Submissions may also be delivered in person at the United Way Office in Rapid City. If submitting in person, please use the dropbox at the back of the United Way building and date the package.

Please note, if you submit original work via mail or drop-off and would like to receive it back after the contest, please note this with your submission. Traditional mail entries must be postmarked by October 15, 2023. Electronic and dropoff entries must be received by 11:59pm on October 15, 2023.

Judging Criteria

There will be three winners for each category. Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

Short Stories

  • Main idea & focus
  • Plot & narrative devices
  • Organization
  • Voice


  • Topic focus
  • Creativity
  • Title
  • Imagery