Tell Us Your Story Essay Contest

In Parable of the Brown Girl, minister and youth advocate Khristi Lauren Adams introduces readers to the resilience, struggle, and hope held within the sacred stories of girls of color. Instead of relegating these young women of color to the margins, Adams brings their stories front and center where they belong. Parable of The Brown Girl will be released on February 4, 2020. 

This essay contest explores the themes of the book.


The winner of each age group will receive $250, a certificate of recognition and a signed copy of Parable of the Brown Girl.  Honorable Mention honorees will be recognized with a certificate of recognition, a signed copy of Parable of the Brown Girl and a gift box. 

Winners may also be invited to participate in a panel discussion at Barnes and Noble on February 15th, 2020.


One winner will be selected from 12 to 14-year-old submitters and one from 15 to 18-year-old submitters.  A limited number of honorable mentions will be awarded as well.


The 2020 Brown Kids Read Essay Contest Deadline is January 10, 2020.

Winners will be notified of the results via email by January 31.


The contest is open to girls who reside in New Jersey.  They must be between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age by the submission deadline on January 10th


Essays should only be submitted using the online form.

Each participant may only submit 1 essay.


Essays should be between 500 to 750 words (2-3 pages double spaced).


The essay should be written in English and should be the original work of the submitter.  A teacher, parent or adult can provide appropriate review and editing, but the structure, ideas, content, and style should be accurate, truthful and come from the submitter alone.

Titling of Documents for Submission

Before they are uploaded, essays should be saved using this format “LastnameFirstName_BKR2020.”

Evaluation Criteria

Each submission is read by at least 2 reviewers.  Essays will be evaluated based on the following criteria:


  • A clear thesis/main message is evident that reflects an understanding of the topic.


  • The presence of ideas and evidence of personal reflection developed through examples, anecdotes, details, opinions, reasoning, explanations and/or scripture.


  • The choice, use, and arrangement of words and sentence structures that create tone and voice is effective.

Organization & Structure

  • The essay is organized and well structured.


  • Demonstration of command of grammar, mechanics, and spelling.

Essay Topic

“The stories of girls of color are often overlooked, unseen and ignored rather than valued and heard.”
Khristi Lauren Adams, Author of Parable of The Brown Girl

Parable of the Brown Girl features the perspectives of 7 Brown Girls on their journey to discover who they really are. 

Choose one of the quotes below and in 750 words or less, write your essay in the form of a letter to that Brown Girl.   Use your personal experience, knowledge, and wisdom to advise her and help her see herself differently. 

Weak Brown Girl

“Why would God make me a warrior when I’m really just weak?” —Deborah, age nine 

Insecure Brown Girl

“If God knew I would feel insecure about my skin and my hair, then why would he choose to make me born like this?”—Leah, age nineteen 

Voiceless Brown Girl

“If my words aren’t important, or my feelings or my personhood, then why am I here?”—Lyric, age sixteen

Fass Brown Girl

“Who I am shows up in my body. What I’ve been through shows up in my body.”—Mary, age sixteen

Alienated Brown Girl

“I can’t even begin to tell you how African Americans used to treat us in public school.  They’d ask me why I didn’t perm my hair.  They were lighter than us and they would say things like, ‘Oh, she look like a roach.’” —Nimi, age seventeen 

Angry Brown Girl

“People tell me to brush it off, or ‘sticks and stones,’ or ‘just pray about it; don’t say anything.’ It don’t work like that. I think I’m going to always have to fight for myself, regardless if people are fighting with me.” —Ashley, age thirteen

White-Acting Brown Girl

“I just want to be me. It’s like, why is it a big deal to just be me? I’m always too concerned with whether I’m acting too black in one place or too white in another. I [like to say I] don’t care what people think; but I mean, let’s be honest, there’s a part of me that really does.” —Ebony, age seventeen