The writers are the first two winners of a new author contest launched as an extension of Cheerios' seven-year-old "Spoonfuls of Stories" literacy program.
Through the stories program, Cheerios has included more than 35 million paperback editions of selected S&S Children's Publishing books free in boxes of the cereal, as well as making donations ($3 million to date) to First Book, a nonprofit that provides new books to children in lower-income families.
The program aims to encourage parents and children to enjoy reading together, as well as get great books into kids' hands, according to Cheerios Marketing Manager Jeff Hingher. "Cheerios is already the first 'finger food' for many children, so partnering with parents to nurture their children's development through reading is a natural extension of the brand," he says.
The program's new-author contest, started two years ago, offers entrants the chance to win a $5,000 grand prize and the opportunity to have their story reviewed by S&S, although no promise of being published is made.
The first winner, Shellie Braeuner -- a nanny from Nashville, Tenn., who wrote a story called "The Great Dog Wash" -- has now been offered a book deal by S&S. The book, with illustrations by Robert Neubecker, will be published in hardcover this summer, after a paperback version (printed in both English and Spanish) is included in 1.5 million boxes of Cheerios this spring.
S&S has also now announced that it will publish the second winning story, "1 Zany Zoo" by Lori Degman. That one will also be distributed first in paperback in Cheerios boxes, with a hardcover release expected in 2010.
Entries were judged based on appropriate story/content for children ages four to eight, emotional connection, writing quality, uniqueness and "read-aloud" potential. Final judging was done by a panel of literary experts.
Cheerios is now accepting entries for the 2009 edition of the contest at spoonfulsofstoriescontest.com.