June 9, 2017 Letters About Literature Reading-Writing Program Winners Announced

Press Contact: Jennifer Gavin (202) 707-1940
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

Letters About Literature, a Library of Congress national reading- and writing-promotion program, has announced its winners for 2017. The program, now in its 25th year, asks young people in grades 4 through 12 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives.

More than 43,700 young readers from across the country participated in the annual initiative, which aims to instill a lifelong love of reading in the nation’s youth and to engage and nurture their passion for literature. The contest is promoted by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress through its affiliated state centers, state libraries and other organizations.

Research shows that students benefit most from literacy instruction when they are engaged in reading and writing activities that are relevant to their daily experiences. In addition, research supports the link between reading and writing: children who read will write better; children who write will read more. Letters About Literature provides this type of reading-writing experience and challenges students to identify a personal connection with the books they read. This year, nearly 1,700 educators and more than 1,500 schools used Letters About Literature in their classrooms.

The national program is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book.

This year’s winners come from all parts of the country. They wrote to authors as diverse as R.J. Palacio, Lisa Genova, Sharon Draper, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Stephen Chbosky.

Top letter-writers are chosen for each state and in each of three levels: Level 1 (grades 4-6), Level 2 (grades 7-8) and Level 3 (grades 9-12). From within these pools a National Prize winner is chosen, and for each level, two National Honor winners are chosen.

Following are this year’s winners:

Level 1 National Prize

  • Claire Juip of Grosse Pointe, Michigan wrote to R.J. Palacio, author of “Wonder”

Level 1 National Honor Award

  • Isabella Reichard of Brookline, New Hampshire wrote to Esther Earl, author of “This Star Won’t Go Out”
  • Mark Leschinsky of Mahwah, New Jersey wrote to Lisa Genova, author of “Still Alice”

Level 2 National Prize

  • Maria Cheriyan of Farmington Hills, Michigan wrote to Ruta Sepetys, author of  “Salt to the Sea”

Level 2 National Honor Award

  • Sam Opinsky of Chesterfield, Missouri wrote to Sharon Draper, author of “Out of My Mind”
  • Madison Kelleher of Montoursville, Pennsylvania wrote to Robert Munsch, author of “Love You Forever”

Level 3 National Prize

  • Apoorva Chauhan of Las Vegas, Nevada wrote to Stephen Chbosky, author of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Level 3 National Honor Award

  • Brice Jansen of Leopold, Missouri wrote to Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” series
  • Samantha Lynn Kiss of Chesapeake, Virginia wrote to David Levithan, author of “Boy Meets Boy”

Letters About Literature is a dynamic educational program that promotes lifelong readers and helps develop successful writers. It is the Library’s signature national outreach program to young people. More than 1 million students have participated in the writing contest since it began a quarter of a century ago. An online teaching guide uses proven strategies for improving reading and writing proficiency and is aligned with the learning objectives recommended by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Literacy Association. Learn more about the contest and read current and past winning letters at read.gov/letters/.

The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books and reading, is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading-promotion partners and through its Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit read.gov.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


PR 17-086
ISSN 0731-3527