News from the Center for the Book
Letters About Literature Program Honors National and State Winners
One hundred fifty young readers across the country were honored in April with state and national awards for their achievements in this year’s Letters About Literature writing contest, sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in association with Target. Six national winners received cash awards and also earned for their community or school library a $10,000 Letters About Literature reading-promotion grant. Twelve national honorable mention winners were also chosen, receiving cash awards and earning for their community or school library a $1,000 reading-promotion grant.
With funding provided by Target, the national reading-promotion program challenges young readers to write a personal letter to an author, describing how that author’s work has changed their view of the world or of themselves.
More than 55,000 children in grades 4 through 12 participated this year. Students compete in one of three competition levels: elementary school, grades four through six; middle school, grades seven and eight; and high school, grades nine through 12. On the state level, the program is sponsored by affiliate state centers for the book. State and national judges include published authors, editors, publishers, librarians and teachers.
For information about the program and a list of previous Letters About Literature winners, visit www.loc.gov/letters/. To read the winning letters go to www.lettersabout-literature.org. For further details, contact the national program director at [email protected]
Level I (Grades 4-6)
- Caroline Hoskins, Collierville, Tenn.
Cynthia Lord, “Rules”
- Taaja Draughn, Robersonville, N.C.
Sharon Draper, “Forged by Fire”
Level II (Grades 7-8)
- Corie Anne Mazer, Birmingham, Ala.
Lois Lowry, “The Giver”
- Kailey McCoy, Temecula, Calif.
Blake E.S. Taylor, “ADHD & Me”
Level III (Grades 9-12)
- Josh Tiprigan, Northvale, N.J.
Rudyard Kipling, “If”
- Amelia Leuer, St. Michael, Minn.
Linda Pastan, “Caroline”
Letters About Literature: The Letters
Here are some excerpts from letters written by the six national winners:
Written by Caroline Hoskins to Cynthia Lord, author of “Rules”
“Just like Catherine in ‘Rules,’ I have a sibling with Autism. … Thank you, Cynthia Lord, for writing such a beautiful story that includes problems that kids these days actually face. You are an amazing author, and ‘Rules’ is a simply wonderful story. It helped me through my problems, and I am positive it helps kids all over the world every day.”
Written by Josh Tiprigan to Rudyard Kipling, author of “If”
“Through your poem ‘If,’ I realized that to be a man is not about putting weights on a barbell but rather putting the weight of others on your back. Your poem was so much more than just a simple list of guidelines or morals that some see it as; it really changed my life and my relationship with my dad. Because of ‘If,’ I am able to walk with my chest pushed out like a maian not because of bulging pectoral muscles but because of the heart under them.”
Written by Kailey McCoy to Blake E.S. Taylor, author of “ADHD & Me”
“I absolutely loved your book ‘ADHD & Me’ because I am growing up with ADHD and this book really helped me to accept the fact that I have it. … When I read your book, I felt like I had come home. I took some of your advice on how to deal with distractions and stress and it has really helped me.”
Written by Corie Anne Mazer to Lois Lowry, author of “The Giver”
“Even though the word ‘government’ is never mentioned once in ‘The Giver,’ your book forever changed the way I think about government. … ‘The Giver’ showed me how critical it is to have a voice in the government. Maybe if enough citizens take this right seriously, my government can serve as a positive example for other governments.”
Written by Amelia Leuer to Linda Pastan, author of “Caroline”
“I still face the reality of my beautiful sister’s death every day. I’m often confounded as to how my family has managed to survive this, but I realize we can endure this pain only because of small miracles we experience every day. Your poem ‘Caroline’ is one of those miracles. Was your poetry meant for someone like me? I feel like it is. Even this letter cannot describe my emotion as effectively as the words of ‘Caroline’ capture my heart and comfort me. I wish for you to know my gratitude in how ‘Caroline’ has carried me through the darkest week of my life and continues to strengthen me today.”
Written by Taaja Draughn to Sharon Draper, author of “Forged by Fire”
“When I finally finished your book I understood the meaning of forgive and forget. Forgive means to apologize. Forget means to move on with your life. … That’s why I’m going to forgive and forget that my father can’t be around in my life because he’s been in prison for the last nine years. Thank you for understanding.”