Wyman honors Letters About Literature champions

News Release
Issued: May 24, 2013

OLYMPIA...This year's three state champions in a national literary competition have been honored by Secretary of State Kim Wyman at the State Capitol.

The Letters About Literature contest, sponsored by the Washington State Library and the Library of Congress, encourages students to write a letter to the author (living or dead) of a book that has impacted them. This year's Washington champions 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.

The three state champions each received a $125 check from the Washington State Library, which is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.

Wyman and the Washington State Library recognized the state champions, second-place runners up and honorable mentions during an awards ceremony in the Legislative Building's Columbia Room Friday afternoon.

"It was exciting to honor these students and talk with them and their parents," Wyman said. "I love to read for entertainment and to learn more, and I encourage all kids to read. The Letters About Literature contest is a great way for students to think how a favorite book touches them and to put their thoughts about that book onto paper. Congratulations to the students honored at the Capitol, as well as all of the students who competed in the contest."

TVW covered the ceremony, and the station plans to air it next week. Go to TVW's website at http://www.tvw.org/ to view the ceremony.

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.

Nearly 100 schools, as well as Boys & Girls Clubs from around the state, submitted 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.