Cedarburg Reads & Writes 2023

Cedarburg Reads is a community-wide program co-organized with the Friends and the library with the singular goal of helping Cedarburg residents in meeting their neighbors, one conversation at a time. This month-long program happens once a year in the fall.

Designed to bring people together through the reading and discussion of a common book, programs like this one have been implemented throughout the country to create a shared experience of civic unity through the reading of literature.

Related events about the book topic happen in the library and the community throughout the month.

Watch the Cedarburg Reads Author Talk with Nickolas Butler

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Watch "The Jack Henke Show" Interview with Nickolas Butler

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Author Nickolas Butler with Cedarburg Writes Contest Winners, L-R: Eliana Lisiecki, Nickolas Butler, Heather Hilgendorf, Deb Krygiel, Emerson Grunwald.

2023 Cedarburg Writes Winning Stories:


1st Prize

The Power of Showing Up by Deb Krygiel

A short story of a grouchy widower grieving over the anniversary of his wife's death until his friends show up and plan a graveside ceremony for her.

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Honorable Mentions

Salinger: A Friendship to Last a Lifetime by Christopher Schulz

An Unexpected Friendship by Mary Cieszynski

High School

1st Prize

Post Office Collection Box by Eliana Lisiecki

A series of heartfelt letters, written by the narrator, by three different friends at three different stages of her life.

Click Here to Read

Honorable Mentions

A Proper Goodbye by Kaelyn Sohre

A Loaf of Friendship by Sara Yesufu

Middle Grade

1st Prize

Luna Lei by Heather Hilgendorf

A story about a young girl named Kass who stumbles upon a hidden world when she discovers a mysterious intruder in her family's shed.

Click Here to Read

Honorable Mentions

Waves of Friendship by Hayley Keller

A Birthday Surprise by Sophia Herr

Grade School

1st Prize

Jordan's Story by Emerson Grunwald

A short story about a girl who's being teased about her name until she befriends the new girl in school, who becomes her closest friend.

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Honorable Mentions

Untitled (Esther and Imogen) by Susannah Orcholski

Avalon by Teresa Ciesnzynski 

2022 Cedarburg Reads Writing Contest

A judges panel reviewed original short stories and creative nonfiction/memoir based on the theme of “Hometown Memories.” 1000 words or less submissions by Ozaukee County residents were accepted in four age groups: grades 3-4, 5-8, high school, and adult.

The winners were recognized at an author event at the library on Oct. 25. Local author Lesley Kagen gave a presentation about her recent novel “Every Now and Then,” which is set in a small town similar to Cedarburg.

images of author event

Cedarburg Writes Winners at Author Event, L-R: Jean O'Keefe, Cedarburg Reads Committee & Friends of the Library; Clare Birmingham; Erin S.; Lesley Kagen, author of Every Now and Then; Emmett Barry (front); Emmalynn Griffin. Not pictured: Chris LaRose.

2022 Winners

Adult: A Eulogy of Home by Clare Birmingham

In this heart-felt story, the author writes about having to say good-bye to her childhood home and the memories created within those walls. The writer relays the ups and downs of growing up in an old house with humor and emotion.

Read "A Eulogy of Home"

High School: After the Light by Chris LaRose

Not all hometown memories are good ones as told in this haunting story about a 60-year-old man who has just died. As he is being transported to be laid to rest in his childhood cemetery, his spirit offers a grumpy perspective about his final journey, the town he’ll be buried in and the miserable life he led. Suddenly a boy, apparently a ghost of his younger self, is seen running alongside the hearse and meets them at the gravesite with a message for the deceased.

Read "After the Light"

Grades 6-8: Dear Small Town by Erin S.

The first sentence reads: “I know you and you know me.” In this story, the author exchanges letters with her hometown and reminisces about the good times and not so good times growing up there. The writer asks the hometown if it remembers those times. “Of course” is the response which adds: "I know someday you’ll leave ... but your impact will forever remain here.”

Read "Dear Small Town"

Grades 3-5 (tied for first place): How Do You Speak Human? by Emmalynn Griffin

This story is about living in Cedarburg from a pet’s point of view. The writer tells the tale of two dogs who escape from their “humans” and get disoriented. But alas, “Ranger,” the police canine comes to their rescue. When the dogs are reunited with their owners, they can finally understand the words spoken from their “humans.”

Read "How Do You Speak Human?"

Grades 3-5 (tied for first place): Hometown Memories by Emmett Barry

In this story, a youngster recalls how it felt when his family picked up and left Chicago to move to Cedarburg to open a retail business. He came home from school that last day of second grade and found the house empty except for a single roll of toilet paper. It made him feel sad, but by the time they arrived in Cedarburg and settled into their new home, he realized that he had a whole other life ahead of him to make memories.

Read "Hometown Memories"

Volunteer with the Friends

Join a lively bunch of folks who love to be part of the library and the Cedarburg community! Experience the results of your time and effort by seeing programs happening and folks checking out new materials.

Find out more!