Wyman honors Letters About Literature champions

News Release
Issued: May 09, 2014

OLYMPIA...With their families and teachers watching, Secretary of State Kim Wyman has honored the three state champions and other top finishers in Washington's 2014 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 (grades 9-12) champion. Kuang penned her letter to Jerry Spinelli about his book Smiles to Go.

Wyman and first lady Trudi Inslee also recognized three second-place runners up and 26 honorable mention winners during an awards ceremony in the Legislative Building's Columbia Room Friday afternoon. State Librarian Rand Simmons also spoke at the event.

"I thoroughly enjoy recognizing all of these students, and their parents, for doing so well in this great 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. These letters are so thoughtful and moving. Congratulations to the students honored here at the Capitol, as well as all who competed.”

TVW covered the ceremony, and plans to air it Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m. and May 18 at 9 p.m. Go to TVW's website at http://www.tvw.org/ to view the ceremony.

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 received an award certificate in the mail.

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

More information about this year's contest can be found at: http://1.usa.gov/1g0OeRq.

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 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.