News | June 30, 2015

2015 Letters About Literature Reading/Writing Program Winners Announced

Letters About Literature, a Library of Congress national reading and writing program that 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, has announced its 2015 winners.

More than 50,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year’s Letters About Literature initiative funded by a grant from the Library’s James Madison Council with additional support from the Library’s Center for the Book. The initiative is a reading-promotion program of the Center for the Book, with the goal of instilling a lifelong love of reading in the nation’s youth. Since 1997, more than a million students have participated.

This year’s winners are from all parts of the country and wrote to authors as diverse as Sandra Pinkney, Walter Isaacson, Elie Wiesel and Art Spiegelman.

The top letters in each competition level for each state were chosen. Then, a National and a National Honor winner were chosen from each of the three competition levels: Level 1 (grades 4-6), Level 2 (grades 7-8) and Level 3 (grades 9-12). On the state level, the program is sponsored by affiliate Centers for the Book. National judges include published authors, editors, publishers, librarians and teachers.

Following are this year’s winners.

Level 1

National Prize

Gerel Sanzhikov of New Jersey wrote to Wendell Van Draanen, author of "The Running Dream."

National Honor Award
Chelsea Brown of Virginia wrote to Sandra L. Pinkney, author of "Shades of Black."

Level 2

National Prize

Gabriel Ferris of Maine wrote to Walter Isaacson, author of "Steve Jobs."

National Honor Award (tied)
Emmy Goyette of New Hampshire wrote to Laurie Halse Anderson, author of "Speak."
Jonathan Hoff of New Jersey wrote to Art Spiegelman, author of "Maus."
Julianna Gorman of Maryland wrote to Elie Wiesel, author of "Night."

Level 3

National Prize

Aidan Kingwell of Illinois wrote to Mary Oliver about her poem "When Death Comes."

National Honor Award (tied)
Lisa Le of the District of Columbia wrote to Amy Tan, author of "The Joy Luck Club."
Hannah DesChamp of Oregon wrote to Pablo Neruda about his poem "I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You."

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. 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, publications and exhibitions.

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 the Library’s Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center. For more information, visit