2014 Letters About Literature champions announced

News Release
Issued: April 02, 2014

OLYMPIA...Three students – from Port Orchard, Sammamish and Woodinville – are the 2014 state champions in Washington's Letters About Literature contest.

The literary competition, sponsored by the Washington State Library and the Library of Congress, encourages students to write letters to their favorite authors, past or present. This year's winners, chosen from more than 4,000 entries, are:

  • Peter Baumer, a fourth-grader from Port Orchard, is the Level 1 (grades 4-6) champion. Baumer wrote his letter to Laura Ingalls Wilder about her book Farmer Boy.
  • Owen Bernstein, a seventh-grader at Eastside Catholic Middle School in Sammamish, is the Level 2 (grades 7-8) champ. Bernstein's letter is to Orson Scott Card about his book Pastwatch.
  • Cindy Kuang, a 10th-grader from Woodinville who attends Inglemoor High School in Kenmore, is the Level 3 champion (grades 9-10). Kuang penned her letter to Jerry Spinelli about his book Smiles to Go.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman and the State Library will recognize the state champions, three second-place runners up and 26 honorable mention contestants during an awards ceremony in the Columbia Room (first floor of the Legislative Building) on May 9 at 1:30 p.m.

“I look forward to recognizing these students, and their parents, for doing so well in this contest,” Wyman said. “Letters About Literature is special because it encourages students to not only read, but to put their thoughts about a favorite book onto paper. Many of these letters are so thoughtful and moving. I congratulate Peter, Owen and Cindy on being named state champions, as well as all of the students who competed.”

The Washington State Library is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.

Nearly 4,245 Washington students submitted letters for this year's contest. About 1,030 letters advanced to round 2 judging and 210 semifinalists overall reached the third round. The semifinalists not invited to the awards ceremony will receive an award certificate in the mail.

The three state champions' letters have been sent to the Library of Congress for the national competition. Winners will be announced in late April or early May.

More than 125 schools from around the state had entries. The contest ran from September to January.

Students wrote a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work influenced their perspective on the world or themselves. Students can write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. They cannot write about music lyrics, comic books or comic strips. National winners will receive a $1,000 cash award.

This is the ninth year that the Washington State Library and the Office of Secretary of State have sponsored the competition as part of Washington Reads, which highlights books about Washington or the Pacific Northwest. The project is also sponsored by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.