First lady Ann LePage has announced the Maine is ME Student Art Challenge, in partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. The challenge is for Maine students in grades K-8. LePage is asking students to submit an original work of art depicting what living in Maine means to them. Artwork may be inspired by a wide range of things including favorite Maine places, outdoor activities, foods and state symbols, as well as families having fun together.

Selected artwork will be featured in LePage’s upcoming new family friendly “Love.Read.Learn!™ Baby Journal,” produced in partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation. The journal is a scrapbook-style booklet to promote literacy and health to families of newborn babies in Maine. The baby journal will be provided at no cost to parents of newborns in 2012-2013.

“This baby journal will be given as a keepsake gift to Maine moms and dads to help them become the first and best teachers to their child,” said LePage. “The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy has done a tremendous amount of work for Maine families, and I thank them for giving Maine families this opportunity.”

“We are incredibly excited to be partnering with first lady LePage and the talented students of Maine to create a beautifully illustrated baby journal for families across the state,” said Barbara Bush. “We know reading benefits a child in so many ways, from language comprehension and vocabulary development to heightened creativity and family bonding. This journal will be a wonderful way for parents to start their child out on the path of learning.”

All selected artists must be a K-8 Maine student during the 2012-2013 school year and be a legal resident of Maine at the time of his/her application. Entries must be postmarked by Oct. 30; the winners are expected to be notified during the week of Nov. 12. Entries can be sent to the Blaine House — Maine is ME Art Challenge, c/o Paula Benoit, 192 State St., Augusta, ME 04330.

Students must return the student-parents forms with their artwork. Art Challenge guidelines and parent consent forms are available online at maine.gov/governor/lepage/family/first_lady.shtml as well as BarbaraBushFoundation.com. For more information about the Barbara Bush Foundation, contact Elizabeth Hirst at (850) 562-5300 or Elizabeth@barbarabushfoundation.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.