Read Imagine Create - CIRCE

For students with special needs that might prevent them from participating, please contact us at for accommodations.


Middle and High School Students will read
by Thi Bui
by Pedro Martin

We are Virtual Learning Compatible!

Encourage reading, analysis, and critical thinking through the interest and expression of the individual student.

Middle and High School Students will READ either the full book, or selections from THE BEST WE COULD DO by Thi Bui or MEXIKID by Pedro Martín. Students will RE-IMAGINE the images, themes, or characters and then CREATE a project in a medium important to them.

All artistic mediums qualify: painting, sculpting, musical composition, sewing, dance choreography, poetry, short story, graphic novel, comic strips, digital art, fashion design, culinary creation… the list goes on! From painted skateboards to full-length operas, Read! Imagine! Create! encourages students to find something they relate to in a text and express it in a way that is meaningful to them.

Submissions are displayed in area libraries in the spring, and all are considered for CASH PRIZES. Awards and recognition are presented at a public ceremony.

FREE BOOKS available upon request! (Based on availability)

Projects due March 4th, 2025

Classroom Workshops

Write Out Loud offers Classroom Workshops to help students get started on their submission project, or jump-start their creativity. For this year’s book selections, we offer a MEMOIR WRITING WORKSHOP, and a GRAPHIC NOVEL VISUAL ART WORKSHOP.

Write Your Own Memoir

A writing workshop to guide students through analysis and identification of memoir, and towards writing their own, original memoir.

​In-Class Time: 45 minutes +

Graphic Novel Workshop

A Teaching Artist will lead a class session on the basics of telling a story through combined images and text. Students will have the opportunity to brainstorm their own visual art projects and practice various sketching techniques.

​​In-Class Time: 45 minutes +

Award Ceremony

Watch the Celebration Ceremony for NEA BIG READ – Read! Imagine! Create! 2024

An Award Ceremony and Performance is held in April. Students receiving special recognition are presented with certificates and prizes. Professional actors read winning Literary submissions, and a slideshow of winning Visual, Digital, and Graphic art is displayed. We’ve even screened student submitted video projects, and presented original songs, choreography, and fashion!

Award Winner receives prize for Literary Composition
Award Winner Performs an Original Dance to an Original Song
Award Winner receives prize for Literary Composition
Award Winner Performs an Original Rap
Award Winner receives prize for Literary Composition
Award Winner Performs an Original Cello Composition
Award Winner receives prize for Literary Composition
Award Winner of Literary Composition
Award Winner performs Original Song
Award Winner performs Original Song
Award Winner performs Original Dance
Award Winner performs Original Dance

Watch a short video about
Read! Imagine! Create!

Artwork Displays

Submitted artwork is prominently displayed in libraries all over San Diego County for Students, Teachers, Parents, and the Public to enjoy and be inspired by.

Would you like to bring Read! Imagine! Create!
into your classroom?

All BOOKS and WORKSHOPS are offered FREE of CHARGE!


See our FAQ section, or

In the Press

Write out Loud and Read! Imagine! Create! were featured by the NEA! ​Read more here!

Submit Your Project

Please read the full Submission Rules and Requirements available here.

Select the type of project you wish to submit:

Educator Resources

(Includes lots of questions Educators ask)


The Best We Could Do

by Thi Bui


by Pedro Martín


This is an ever-evolving list of FAQs we receive from Educators, Students, and Parents. Please take a look here for answers to your questions. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, reach out!


What is the goal of Read! Imagine! Create!
We hope to provide young people the opportunity to find meaningful connection with literature through their own creativity and self-expression, to build community with students across San Diego County, and to feel empowered to bring their own unique perspectives to what they read.
How does Read! Imagine! Create! work?
We provide free copies of the book, students read it (or a portion of it), then imagine and create a project inspired by or connected to the book in some way. The project is turned in through the Submission Page on the RIC website and is eligible for prizes or special recognitions.
Who is eligible to participate in Read! Imagine! Create!

RIC is specifically geared towards Middle and High School age students. It is an open program, so teachers may incorporate it into their classroom curriculum, school clubs or students participating in after-school activities may participate, or individual students may participate on their own. The program is also open to Home-School or Alternative Education programs.

How much does it cost to participate in Read! Imagine! Create!

All elements of Read! Imagine! Create! are always completely free and always will be.

When does Read! Imagine! Create! happen?

The full program begins in September and ends in May. Here is a general timeline:

June: Perusal copies available for educators for planning purposes. To request a perusal copy, please use THIS FORM.

July: Registration and Book Orders are open! Please use THIS FORM to register and order books. Registration remains open through January. Book order for September shipment must be in by August 31st. Book orders for Spring shipment must be in by December 31st.

September: Fall book shipment delivery/ pick up.

September – Mid February: Teachers and students may incorporate the program at any point during these seven months. Workshops are available at any point during these seven months. Please schedule workshops through the Registration Form. If you would like to schedule workshops after you have Registered, reach out to

Projects may be turned in at any point during these seven months. Please use this page to submit projects: PROJECT SUBMISSION PAGE

December: Visual Art project pick-ups for Fall Semester.

March 4: Deadline for all projects to be turned in.

March: Visual Art project pick-up for Spring Semester.

March – April: Judging Occurs.

Mid-March – Early April: Notices will go out to students and teachers about projects displayed in Libraries and presented at Library Receptions.

Early April: Library Receptions. Visual Art projects not displayed will be returned to campus.

Late April: Celebration Ceremony.

Early May: Projects displayed at Libraries will be returned.

How does book selection work?

Write Out Loud – the organization that created and sponsors RIC every year – receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read to cover costs of book purchases, paying Teaching Artists, producing the annual Celebration Ceremony, and other administrative and operational costs. The NEA provides a list of titles eligible for funding. We select the book from this list.
Curious about the list? Find it here:
See a title you like? Send us a suggestion!

Why is it always a different book every year?
By providing a different book each year, students are able to participate annually and be exposed to a wide range of literature and experience.
Why are there sometimes two books?

Sometimes the book from the NEA Big Read list contains mature content. In these cases, we will select a second book that shares similar themes, plot points, and/or characters as an alternative option for younger students.

Do all participating students receive their own copy of the book to keep?

This is our goal, and is usually the case. Depending on funding and the cost of the book, we occasionally will offer class sets instead of individual copies.

What are the Workshops?

Every year, free workshops are offered as an optional supplement to the program. Usually, there is a Literary Workshop and a Visual Art Workshop. Classes may have both or only one workshop. In one class-period, a Teaching Artist will lead a workshop that helps students brainstorm and begin (there is usually not time to complete) a project that they could develop into the project they submit to the contest. Workshops tend to shift each year, based on the book. For more information, please see Workshops.

Workshops are also offered through some library branches. For further information please see LINK LINK LINK


What types of projects can I create?

We have four categories:

Visual Art – painting, sculpting, diorama, comic strip, graphic novel, illustrations, book jackets, fashion/costume designs, set designs, mixed media, photography, skateboard designs etc. Anything that you experience by looking at and is not meant to be experienced on a screen.

Literary Art – stories, poetry, monologue, dialogue, biography, plays, etc. Anything that is meant to be experienced by reading it.

Performance – music composition, dance, poetry recitation, opera, monologue or dialogue that is performed, etc. Anything that is meant to be experienced by an audience watching the performance in person in real time.

Media – film, video, animation, original video games, digital painting or illustration, etc. Anything that is meant to be experienced on a screen.

For examples of projects, please see the main RIC Page.

How do I turn in my project?

Please see the project-submissions

Can I create more than one project?

Yes. Each individual student may submit up to three projects per year in whatever categories they choose. A student may submit multiple projects per category (3 Visual Art, 2 Literary, etc), but the total number of projects per individual student must not exceed three.

Do you accept group projects?

Yes. Please be sure to fill out the appropriate Group Project submission form.

What happens with projects after they are turned in?

It depends on the type of project:

Visual Art projects are collected and stored in a secure facility where they are cataloged and displayed for the judges. Once judging is complete, as many projects as possible are then moved to a local library and displayed for the month of April for the public to enjoy. (See more FAQs about Visual Art projects below). Any projects that are not displayed are returned in the first half of April. Once the library displays come down in May, these projects are displayed in the first half of May.

Literary, Media, and Performance projects are sent to a panel of judges who read and score projects.

How do I turn in a Performance project if it’s supposed to be performed live?

We ask for a video of the performance to be submitted through the online form

What if my project has more than one element? What if I write a story and illustrate it? What if I write a play and my friends and I perform it? Etc?

For projects that contain more than one element, you may turn them in to multiple categories. So, if you write and illustrate a story, you may turn the text of the story in as a Literary project, and you may turn in the full book with the illustrated text as a Visual Art project. If you write a play and your friends perform it, then the script can be turned in as a Literary project, and the video of the performance can be turned in as a Performance project.

NOTE that we do not re-categorize projects! If a project is submitted under one category, then that is the category in which it is assessed. If you have questions about what category your project falls under, please contact the Education Coordinator at

Where are Visual Art projects displayed?

Every year, we partner with several libraries across the county. Specific locations may be found on the RIC Main Page.

Are all Visual Art projects that are submitted to the contest displayed in libraries?

No. We display as many Visual Art pieces as we can, but we always receive more projects than we have space for. We try to display as wide a range of projects, schools, and mediums as possible.

How do I know if my Visual Art project is on display at a library?

We will send teachers a list of all projects that are on display. We will also send an email to the provided email contact on the submission form to let you know which branch your project is at, and the date of the Artist Reception for that branch.

If my Visual Art project is displayed, does that mean I have won an award?

No, display does not indicate receipt of recognition. We usually display between 200 – 300 projects, while we recognize about 30 Visual Art projects per year.

If my Visual Art project receives a recognition or award does that mean it is guaranteed to be displayed?

No, recognition does not guarantee display.

How are projects selected for display?

We try and display as wide a range as possible to demonstrate the extensive creativity of San Diego students. Factors such as space, size, and durability also come into play. The goal of the library displays and receptions is to include and celebrate as many students as possible.

What is the Library Reception?

This is an informal gathering where we provide snacks, treats, and beverages at the library and invite students, teachers, family, and friends to come and see the artwork. Depending on the year, there may also be readings of some literary projects, a short performance related to the book, or a brief presentation.

How long are Visual Art projects displayed at libraries?

Roughly one month, for the month of April. You may visit the libraries at any time during operating hours to view the displays.

My Visual Art project was damaged or lost. What happened?

First – we sincerely apologize for this. It is always our intention to respect and care for the projects while they are in our care. While it does not happen often, on occasion a project will be damaged or lost. Every case is different, but here are some things to consider:

Visual Art projects are transported a minimum of two times: School to Storage Facility, and Storage Facility to School.
If the project is displayed, it is transported three times: School to Storage Facility, Storage Facility to Library, Library to School.
This also means the project is being packed and repacked a minimum of 2 – 3 times. We try our very best to pack projects safely and protect them during transport, but most often, if damage happens, it happens during transportation with three-dimensional projects (diorama, sculpture, etc). Sometimes the vibration of the vehicle is enough to weaken particularly delicate elements of a project. If damage occurs while the project is in our care, we do our best to reach out to the teacher and/or student to let them know. If damage happens in transit back to the school, we may not know about it.

If a project is lost – this happens even less frequently – it could be that the Submission Form somehow became unattached from the project, or that the project was mistakenly delivered back to the wrong school. If this has happened to your project, feel free to reach out to the Education Coordinator at and we will investigate to try and track down what happened.

We are continually updating our cataloging and intake protocols in an effort to keep diligent records of all projects at all times. Please accept our earnest apologies, and know that every effort is made to care for all projects submitted to our program.

Something students, educators, and parents can do to help minimize these unfortunate anomalies is to follow submission instructions carefully, and to ensure that projects are sturdy and durable when submitted.

How are Awards or Special Recognitions selected?

We recruit a panel of between 3 – 5 judges per category. All of our judges practice or work in the category that they are judging, and most also have some sort of connection to the Education. Judges assess projects based on creativity, individualism, connection to the source text, and skill of execution. Any project that is selected by a Judge receives a Special Recognition. Of those selected by Judges, scores from Final Judges determine First, Second, or Third place prizes.

What are the prizes?

First place: $100 + Certificate
Second place: $50 + Certificate
Third place: $25 + Certificate
Special Recognition: Certificate

How will I know if my project is being recognized?

Once judging is complete, we reach out to teachers and to the contact email provided on the submission form to congratulate students whose projects are being recognized.

If my project is not recognized will I receive an email?

Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to contact students who are not being recognized.

What and When is the Celebration Ceremony?

This is a ceremony held annually at the end of April where prizes and special recognitions for projects in all four categories are awarded. We will play winning Media projects on a screen for all to see, winning literary projects will be read aloud, images of winning Visual Art projects will be projected, and winning performance projects will be performed live by the students (when available). This event is most often held at the Central Library in downtown. Exact time, location, and logistics will be sent out closer to the event to invited students and educators.

Who can attend the Celebration Ceremony?

Students, family, and educators.
NOTE that we do need to restrict attendance, due to the capacity of the venue. We recognize about 100 students every year, which means we must limit the number of guests each student may bring (usually it’s 3 per student). Attendance is free, but registration for this event is required to ensure we do not go over capacity. More information on this will be sent out closer to the event to invited students and educators.

I am an individual student who would like to participate and no teacher on my campus is participating. How do I register?

Individual students should contact the Education Coordinator at

How do I register for RIC this year?

Fill out this form: RIC REGISTRATION FORM

Are there any requirements to participate in RIC?
For Educators who are ordering more than 12 books, yes. We ask that you fill out and submit a short 5 – 10 question survey that will help us accurately report the impact of the program. This will take about 10 minutes, and will be sent out in April, after the program is over.

For Individual Students, Homeschool or alternative education educators requesting fewer than 12 books, no.

Do I have to incorporate RIC into my curriculum?

No. Teachers may choose how to offer RIC. You may offer it as extra credit, or as purely extra-curricular. Some teachers or school librarians use it as a text for the on-campus Book Club or for after-school enrichment programs. We purposefully keep the requirements as minimal as possible to enable as a wide a population as possible to participate. Teachers who do incorporate RIC into the classroom/ curriculum tend to report that their students get more out of the experience.

Are students required to enter a project into the contest?

No. Students are not required to submit a project.

Are there Study Guides or Lesson Plans available?

Yes, for both texts. See the RIC webpage and scroll down to Teacher Resources.

  • I am an individual student who would like to participate. How do I register?
  • I am a teacher or educator who would like to learn more or start RIC in my classroom or education program this year.
  • I have a question that was not addressed above.

Please contact the Education Coordinator at

How many people run Read! Imagine! Create! ?

Two – Write Out Loud Artistic Director Veronica Murphy and Education Coordinator Rachael VanWormer. We rely on a network of dedicated volunteers to help us make this program possible every year.

Does Write Out Loud offer any other Education Programs?

Yes! We offer programs for all grade levels. For more information, see our Education Tab on the main Write Out Loud Website:

What books have you done in the past?

Past titles include:

  • The works of Edgar Alan Poe by Edgar Alan Poe
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradburry
  • Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • A Small Story About the Sky by Alberto Rios
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Collected Works of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
  • The Bear by Andrew Krivak
Why do you do Read! Imagine! Create! ?

We believe that success and achievement can take a myriad of forms, and we hope to inspire young people to seek out avenues for their own success in their academic pursuits, as well as the experiences they will have over their lifetime outside of school.