May 10, 2013 Letters About Literature Reading-Writing Program Winners Announced

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

Letters About Literature, a national reading and writing program that asks young people in grades 4 through 10 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives, has announced its 2013 winners.

More than 50,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year’s Letters About Literature initiative, a reading promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

This year’s winners come from all parts of the country and wrote to authors as diverse as Laura Ingalls Wilder (“Little House in the Big Woods”), Amy Tan (“The Joy Luck Club”) and J.R.R. Tolkien (“The Hobbit”).

The top letters in each competition level for each state were chosen. Then, national, national honor and national runner-up winners were chosen from each of the three competition levels: level 1 (grades 4-6), level 2 (grades 7-8) and level 3 (grades 9-10).

In the states, the program is sponsored by affiliate state centers for the book. National judges include published authors, editors, publishers, librarians and teachers.

Following are this year’s winners:

Level 1

National Prize
Alessandra Selassie’s letter to Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “Little House in the Big Woods.” Alessandra is from Washington, D.C., and is a fifth-grade student at the Basis D.C. Charter School.

National Honor
Rose Yuanhong Benas’s letter to Steven Mosher, author of “A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy.” Rose is from Naperville, Ill., and is a sixth-grade student at the Avery Coonley School.

National Runner-Up
Dalton Vassallo’s letter to Jerry Spinelli, author of “Stargirl.” Dalton is a sixth-grade student at the Derby Academy in Hingham, Mass.

Level 2

National Prize
Matilda Berke’s letter to Amy Tan, author of “The Joy Luck Club.” Matilda is an eighth-grade student at the Chandler School in Pasadena, Calif.

National Honor
Elizabeth Chambers’ letter to J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Hobbit.” Elizabeth is an eighth-grade student at Jackson Hole Middle School in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

National Runner-Up
Shannon Chinn’s letter to Ray Bradbury, author of “Fahrenheit 451.” Shannon is a seventh-grade student at St. Pius X/St. Leo School in Omaha, Neb.

Level 3

National Prize
Emily Waller’s letter to Laura Ruby, author of “The Wall and the Wing.” Emily is a 10th-grade student at Normal Community West High School in Hudson, Ill.

National Honor
Claire Fieldman’s letter to Jay Asher, author of “Thirteen Reasons Why.” Claire is a 10th-grade student at Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif.

National Runner-Up
Grace Mitchell’s letter to Karen Kingsbury, author of “Unlocked.” Grace is a 10th-grade student at Pecos High School in Pecos, Texas.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at


PR 13-092
ISSN 0731-3527