Letters About Literature champions announced

News Release
Issued: April 02, 2013

OLYMPIA...Three students – from Seattle, Bainbridge Island and Brush Prairie in Clark County – are the 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, living or dead. This year's winners are:

  • Cora Tessaro,a fifth grader at Daniel Bagley Elementary School in Seattle, is the Level 1 (grades 4-6) champion. Tessaro wrote her letter to Eric Schlosser about his book Chew on This.
  • Julia Batson, a seventh grader at Woodward Middle School on Bainbridge Island, is the Level 2 (grades 7-8) champion. Batson's letter is to Randa Abdel-Fattah about her book Ten Things I Hate About Me.
  • Jordyn Tonkinson, a ninth grader at Hockinson High School in Brush Prairie, is the Level 3 champion (grades 9-10). Tonkinson penned her letter to Garth Stein about his book The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman and the State Library will recognize the state champions, second place runners up and honorable mentions during an awards ceremony in the Columbia Room (first floor of the Legislative Building) on May 24 at 1:30 p.m.

"I'm excited to meet and recognize these students, and their parents, for doing so well in this contest," Wyman said. "I love to read, and I think Letters About Literature is great because it encourages students to not only read, but to put their thoughts about a favorite book onto paper. I congratulate Cora, Julia and Jordyn 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.

About 3,400 letters from Washington students advanced to round 1 judging and 722 moved on to round 2 judging. There were 325 semifinalists overall who reached the third round. Of those semifinalists, state judges selected three champions, three runners up, and 21 honorable mentions. All semifinalists 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 late this month.

Nearly 100 schools, as well as Boys & Girls Clubs 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 eighth 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.