20 Calendar

BookMarked Seattle: Finding Your Place in Seattle’s Story

What’s YOUR Seattle story?

Seattle holds a different story for every one of us. To explore the complicated and multifaceted history of this city, the MOHAI Youth Advisors are launching a book club and kicking it off with an art and writing competition for youth in the Seattle area.

The MOHAI Youth Advisors (MYA) are launching a book club!

Join teens from around the city as we reflect on Seattle’s diverse stories. To celebrate the start of BookMarked Seattle, MYA is also hosting an art and writing competition inspired by the themes explored in the first round of books. There are several ways to participate:

  • Read – MYA has selected four books that highlight Seattle and Puget Sound history, places, and people. Read one, more, or all!
    • The Hustle by Doug Merlino
    • The Bones and the Book by Jane Isenberg
    • The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
    • The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
  • Reflect – Share your thoughts, favorite Seattle stories, and book recommendations on social media using the hashtag #mohaiteens
  • Create – Share your Seattle story in the artistic genre of your choosing and submit it to the BookMarked Seattle art and writing contest by September 9 at 11:59 pm
  • Connect – Join us on October 17 for the first meeting of the book club! Come discuss the books, pick up your copy of the BookMarked Seattle zine, hear and view selected works from the competition, and meet new people.

Submit Your Art/Writing Here!

Look Below For Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to read the books to participate in the art and writing contest?

No! The books selected by MYA explore our area’s history and sense of place. We welcome submissions that explore these same themes, regardless of whether you’ve read the book(s).

Who can submit to the art and writing contest?

  • The contest is open to Seattle-metro area teens (13—19)
  • Seattle-metro area is defined as King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties

What are the submission criteria?

  • Submissions are due no later than September 9 at 11:59 pm.
  • All work must be original and written by a single individual.
  • We are accepting submissions in the following formats: writing, drawing/painting, photography, and audio recordings. An individual can submit up to four works, and they can be in the same or different categories.
  • Reading one of the books on the BookMarked Seattle list is not necessary, but it is encouraged.
  • Submissions will be disqualified if they voice personal hateful opinions or use derogatory language to minimize the lived experience of others.
  • For recordings: please submit your work as an MP3 file. Save the file as the title of your piece, but do not include your name. Work must be no longer than 2 minutes.
  • For photography and drawing/painting: please take a photo of your work and submit as a JPEG. Image resolution should be at least 300 dpi. Save the file as the title of your piece, but do not include your name.
  • For writing: please submit work as a PDF or Word document. Save the file as the title of your piece, but do not include your name. Work must be no longer than 2,000 words.

What should my art/writing be about?

The books on the list explore Seattle as a place both geographically and throughout time, each highlighting a unique part of the city’s stories.

Below are some prompts based on the themes of the books to help you get started in bringing your Seattle story to life:

  • What stories do you see repeating in Seattle now? Where might they have come from?
  • How has your neighborhood shaped you? How does it feel to be in a neighborhood different from your own?
  • How would you characterize racial dynamics in Seattle? How are they different from other places?
  • Personalize an important Seattle historical event.
  • Create art about a particular place.
  • What are some ways you’ve noticed Seattle changing during your life?
  • Which of your family values and traditions do you carry on and which do you leave behind? Why?
  • What is your Seattle story?

How do the books I've read fit into these prompts?

Stories repeat themselves throughout generations, and in The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, Flora and Henry are just one part of a larger story. Think about the characters behind every repeated story.

Doug Merlino explores many neighborhoods in The Hustle, from his grandfather’s Italian neighborhood full of chickens and backyard gardens to his own middle-class suburb to the close-knit community programs amidst extreme segregation in the Central District. Think about how you see the distinctions between neighborhoods in your own life.

In The Hustle, Merlino writes that Ian McClain, a coach in the Central District faces a subtle form of relation, despite how Seattle has “long prided itself as a place with smoother race relations than the rest of the country.” Think about how racism appears in different ways.

In The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, twelve year old Chinese-American Henry describes to his mom why discrimination against Japanese-Americans matters to him: a friend. Think about how personal relationships influence how we see an event.

In The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, Henry thinks about how, despite the discrimination he experiences, music is “A reminder of a place where people didn’t seem to care what you looked like, where you were born, or where your family was from.” Think about the what experiences you have that transcend discrimination and oppression.

In The Bones and the Book by Jane Isenberg, Aliza moves into and out of Seattle, and then returns. She writes “During the years I was away, Seattle changed.” Think about ways in which you’ve noticed changes in Seattle after time away.

The Bones and the Book by Jane Isenberg focuses on orthodox and traditional values vs. modern and progressive values, especially as younger generations struggle to adhere to their parents’ values. Think about how culture influences the values you and your parents hold dearly.

What will happen to my work?

  • MYA will review submissions and select entries to be displayed or read aloud at a showcase in October and/or published in a zine
  • You retain the rights to your work; by submitting your work to MOHAI you are giving us permission to share it at the showcase and on our digital media platforms

When will I know whether my work has been selected for the showcase?

  • Those whose works are selected for the showcase will be notified by September 30

Who are the MOHAI Youth Advisors?

  • MYA is a powerful way to help guide the museum in what teens want and need. Youth advisors make the museum more welcoming for their peers by finding fun and creative ways to connect teens with MOHAI, and providing input on the development of museum programming and exhibits.
  • Get involved! Applications for the 2018—19 MYA program are due July 8. Find out more here.

What if I still have questions?

  • If you have any questions about the art and writing contest, book club, or zine that are not answered on our website, please email!


Attend Not Your Princess to meet contemporary artists and scholars who resist colonial narratives, shatter stereotypes, and celebrate Native culture.

This free program is part of the Beyond the Frame, a community wide-initiative revisiting the photographs of Edward Curtis and Native American identity, race and resilience, and art and culture. Complimentary childcare provided with registration.

Learn More