Kathryn K.

Second Place Winner

In a world of video games, television, computers, tablets, and iPods, a question I personally often hear is, "You read for fun?" I always answer, "Yes." I read because it offers more satisfaction to the mind and the soul than other forms of entertainment. Out of the many books I've read, it's hard to decide on a favorite, but one that really made me think and helped to influence what I believe I want to do in life is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

The world built by Westerfeld is a futuristic one where people under age 16, the "Uglies", live separated from those in their twenties and older, the new, middle, and old "Pretties." There are also the old Pretties, known as "Crumblies" and the young Uglies, known as "Littlies." Kids live mostly separated from parents with others of the same age and grow up being taught to accept that they are ugly now, but they should anxiously anticipate the day when they too can be pretty. Life in New Pretty Town is hyped up to be all fun and parties without the worry of everyday life the kids experience before getting there. Everyone wants to be a Pretty.

Tally Youngblood, however, meets Shay, a girl who believes that becoming a Pretty does something not only to your appearance, but to your mind. She, instead of yearning to become a Pretty, looks for a way to escape it and fills Tally in with the information of a colony of people who had already escaped in a place known as Smoke. When Shay leaves, Tally is recruited by people who keep order to find Shay and report her. After the journey there and when she sees how the people of Smoke live, however, Tally decides not to do as she was told, but stay there, sacrificing being a pretty for being accepted and living a real life with these escapees.

I want to be a teacher at the middle school level, meaning I would have a lot of influence on people who are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do in life. I don't want kids to end up like the brainwashed Pretties in Uglies. I want to be the teacher that encourages them to branch out, try new things, work on that which they most enjoy and are best at, and to essentially reach their full potential. People often fall into what parents, friends, or society in general says they should do with themselves instead of really looking for what they think would most fulfill them. My wish is to help a whole generation want to work at changing the world for the better just by being who they really are.

As Westerfeld says in the book, "What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful." No operation can make a person better than how their own mind could. The principles exhibited in Uglies helped me to understand why I want to teach.