2021 Children’s Book Challenge Winner Announced

Fort Mill, SC – Angel, The Solar Bird, by Madeleine Benner, was selected as the statewide winner of the 2021 Children’s Book Challenge, sponsored by EnlightenSC—an educational initiative of the state’s independent, consumer-owned electric cooperatives. The competition challenges fourth- and fifth-grade students to write and illustrate stories that focus on the impact of electricity their lives, communities and the state.

Benner, a fourth-grade homeschool student, was surprised during a live video conference on April 9. She is a member of Carolina Homeschooler and is taught by her mother Gretchen Benner. In addition to being surprised as the statewide winner, Benner also learned she was receiving a $500 cash prize for her work.

“The judges were impressed with the quality of both the story and illustrations Madeleine created for her book,” said Porter Gable of York Electric Cooperative. “She’s a gifted artist and writer at a young age and electric co-ops are pleased to be able to recognize and reward her work.”

Benner’s book was selected as a regional winner by her local co-op, York Electric. She was one of six regional finalists from across the state. Her book will be published and distributed to elementary schools throughout the state.

This year’s competition marks the first time participants created their stories exclusively online. Students used the digital platform storyjumper.com to write and illustrate their books.

South Carolina’s electric cooperatives have been committed to powering rural communities since 1938. This concern for communities, and the future of our youth, has carried forward to today. By inspiring students to learn more about energy in our state, S.C.’s electric co-ops hope to spark a passion for critical thinking in the minds of tomorrow’s leaders.


The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. is the state association of independent, member-owned electric cooperatives. More than 1.5 million South Carolinians in all 46 counties use power provided by electric cooperatives. Together, the co-ops operate the state’s largest electric power system with more than 70,000 miles of power lines across 70 percent of the state. More information is available at www.ecsc.org.

EnlightenSC is an energy-education program developed by educators for South Carolina’s consumer-owned electric cooperatives. The electric cooperatives created EnlightenSC to help teachers access energy-related training, activities, and resources for their classrooms and to provide opportunities for young people to learn and get excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.