The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress has announced the state winners in the 2005-2006 Letters About Literature reading and writing program, which is sponsored by Target Stores.
More than 48,000 adolescent and young-adult readers in grades 4-12 participated in this year's program, which encourages young people to read, be inspired and write to the author who has somehow changed their view of the world or of themselves. Students compete in one of three competition levels: Level I, grades 4-6; Level II, grades 7-8; and Level three, grades 9-12 . Each state winner receives a cash award, a Target Giftcard and the opportunity to compete on the national level.
Six national winners will be honored at an awards ceremony at the National Book Festival on Sept. 30 in Washington, D.C.
The state competitions are sponsored by affiliated state centers for the book. Each state center selects its panel of state judges. This year, state judges included newspaper and magazine editors and publishers, authors, teachers, librarians and even some high state officials. In Maine, first lady Karen Baldacci served on that state's judging panel. In Washington, Gerry L. Anderson, chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court, read entries for that state's competition.
The more than 130 state winners chose and described more than 110 different books; the most popular authors and books were Lois Lowry ("The Giver"); Wilson Rawls ("Where the Red Fern Grows"); Anne Frank ("Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl"); Harper Lee ("To Kill a Mockingbird"); David Pelzer ("A Child Called It") and J.K Rowling (the Harry Potter series). Three poems were also selected: two by Robert Frost ("Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Road Not Taken") and one by William Butler Yeats ("The Second Coming"). For a list of the 2005-2006 state winners that includes the author and the book or poem chosen by each student winner, visit www.loc.gov/loc/cfbook/2006-LAL-statewinners.html.
Created more than 15 years ago, Letters About Literature is the Center for the Book's premier reading motivation project for young people. "With support from Target, which became the program's sponsor two years ago, the program's visibility and participation have increased," said center director John Y. Cole.
Target sponsors Letters About Literature as part of its national reading initiative, Ready. Sit. Read!, which is aimed at fostering a love of reading among children at an early age. Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.
Letters About Literature is an annual program. For more information about the 2006-2007 competition, as well as to receive free teacher resources for guiding students through the reading and writing process, contact Catherine Gourley, program director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.