2016 Letters About Literature Winners Announced

Letters About Literature, a Library of Congress national reading- and writing-promotion 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 2016 winners.

Nearly 50,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year’s 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 write better; children who write 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, more than 2,200 educators from 1,440 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 and wrote to authors as diverse as Maya Angelou, Gayle Forman, Fred Gipson, Alex Gino, Dorothy Parker and Anne Frank.

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).

Following are this year’s winners:

Level 1

National Prize

Aleema Kelly of Connecticut wrote to Alex Gino, author of "George."

National Honor Awards
Charlie Boucher of Rhode Island wrote to Kathryn Erskine, author of "Mockingbird."
Ellie Sanders of Washington, D.C. wrote to Fred Gipson, author of "Old Yeller."

Level 2

National Prize

Raya Kenney of Washington, D.C. wrote to Maya Angelou, author of "Old Folks Laugh."

National Honor Awards

Hannah Huang of Iowa wrote to Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda, authors of "I Will Always Write Back."

Pippa Scroggins of Florida wrote to Gayle Forman, author of "If I Stay."

Level 3

National Prize

Sara Lurie of Colorado wrote to Dorothy Parker, author of "Penelope."

National Honor Awards
Macoy Churchill of Wyoming wrote to Marie Lu, author of "Legend."
Violet Fearon of New York wrote to Anne Frank, author of "The Diary of a Young Girl."

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 more than 20 years 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/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is 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 Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress. For more information, visit Read.gov.

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