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Washington's 2012 Letters About Literature

Washington's 2012 Letters About Literature

The Letters About Literature awards ceremony took place on Friday, May 11 in the office of the Secretary of State in Olympia.  State Librarian Rand Simmons welcomed everyone and First Gentleman Mike Gregoire spoke.  Secretary Sam Reed then presented the awards to the three Washington state champions and National Honor winners who read their letters.  You may view or purchase a copy of the entire ceremony at TVW, Washington's public affairs television network.

Clare Doran, a sixth grade student at The Bush School in Seattle, is the Level 1 state champion and one of four national honor award winners. She won $125 from the State Library, a $150 gift card from Target, and a $1000 Reading Promotion grant which Clare has given to the Montlake Elementary Scho0l Library in Seattle.  Clare wrote her letter to Jamie Ford about his book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Samantha Smith, an eighth grade student at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, is the Level 2 state champion and one of four national honor award winners.  She won $125 from the State Library, a $150 gift card from Target, and a $1000 Reading Promotion grant which Samantha has given to the Blue Heron Middle School Library.  Samantha wrote her letter to Julie Anne Peters about her book Keeping You a Secret.

Oliver Reed III, a tenth grader at North Central High School in Spokane, is the Level 3 state champion and one of four national honor award winners.  He won $125 from the State Library, a $150 gift card from Target, and a $1000 Reading Promotion grant which Oliver has given the North Central High School Library.  Oliver wrote his letter to William Ernest Henley about his poem “Invictus”. 

There were 3368 entries in round 1 judging and 590 of those letters advanced to round 2 judging.  There are 98 semifinalists who advanced to round 3 state judging.  At Level 1, there were 1187 letters in round 1 with 156 of those advancing to round 2 and just 29 letters moving on to round 3 state judging.  At Level 2, there were 1533 letters in round 1 and 273 of those advanced to round 2 with 49 letters moving on to round 3 state judging.  At Level 3, there were 648 letters in round 1 with 161 of those advancing to round 2 and only 20 letters moving on to round 3 state judging.  All state semi-finalists who advanced to round 3 judging were sent an award certificate signed by Secretary of State, Sam Reed and State Librarian, Rand Simmons.   Their achievement was also acknowledged during a public ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia on May 11.

From the 98 Washington semifinalists, the state judges selected three champions, three second place runners up, and 10 honorable mentions.  The three champions' letters were sent to the Library of Congress for the national competition.  The results of the national judging were announced earlier this month.

Many Washington schools as well as Boys & Girls Clubs from around the state had students enter the contest this year.  We appreciate the support of teachers, librarians, and parents for Letters About Literature.

Our special thanks to this year's judges:

Level I

Kelly Milner Halls, author, Spokane
Buff Hirko, retired librarian, Port Angeles
Mark Wessel, Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers, Seattle

Level II

Karen Cushman, author, Vashon Island
Betty Gard, retired university librarian, Seattle
Patrick Roewe, Branch Services Manager, Spokane County Library District, Spokane

Level III

David Ammons, Communications Director, Office of the Secretary of State, Olympia
Lorena O’English, Social Sciences Librarian, Washington State University, Pullman
Jess Walters, author, Spokane

Letters About Literature encourages young readers to write letters to their favorite authors, competing at the national level to win a $500 Target gift card and  10,000 for their community or school library.  This is the seventh year Washington State Library has sponsored the competition as part of Washington Reads.

Readers in grades four through twelve write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work shaped their perspective on the world or themselves.  Students could write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.  State judges selected the top letter writers in Washington, who then advance to the national competition.  Letter writers compete at three levels:  Level 1 is grades 4-6; Level 2 is grades 7-8; and Level 3 is grades 9-12.  One letter from each level from each state is entered into the national competition.

Letters About Literature is sponsored by the Washington State Library, Office of the Secretary of State, as part of the Washington Reads Program.  Letters About Literature is also sponsored by the The Center for the Book, Library of Congress, and the Target company.

To learn more about the Letters About Literature program at the both the state and national levels, please see below:

Letters About Literature - National Home Page
Letters About Literature - Center for the Book - Library of Congress

Washington's previous contests:
Washington's Letters About Literature 2005-2006
Washington's Letters About Literature 2006-2007
Washington's Letters About Literature 2007-2008
Washington’s Letters About Literature 2008-2009
Washington's Letters About Literature 2009-2010
Washington's Letters About Literature 2010-2011 

Thank you to all the students, teachers, librarians, and families who participate in Washington's Letters About Literature program.  Keep reading and writing!