Washington's Letters About Literature 2009-2010

Washington's 2009-2010 Letters About Literature

The Washington state Letters About Literature awards ceremony took place on Friday, May 7 in the office of the Secretary of State in Olympia.  Secretary Sam Reed, State Librarian Jan Walsh, and Guy Lamolinara from the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress presented awards to the three state champions who read their letters.  You may view or purchase a copy of the entire ceremony at TVW, Washington's public affairs television network.

Reagan Nelson, a 6th grader at Hutton Elementary School in Spokane, has been selected as the state champion and one of two national award winners at Level I.  Reagan will receive her awards in a special presentation at the Office of the Secretary of State in Olympia in May.  She wins $150 from the Washington State Library, a $550 dollar gift card from Target, and a $10,000 grant for Hutton Elementary School library.  Reagan wrote her letter to Laura Ingalls Wilder about her book Little House on the Prairie.

Stephen Hitchcock, an 8th grader at Overlake School in Redmond, has been selected as the state champion and one of four national honor award winners at Level II.  Stephen will also receive his awards in a special presentation at the Office of the Secretary of State in Olympia in May.  He wins $150 from the Washington State Library, a $150 dollar gift card from Target, and a $1,000 grant for The Overlake School library.  Stephen wrote his letter to Jules Verne about his book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Tyler Christensen, a 12th grader at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, is the Level III state champion. Tyler will receive his award of $150 from the Washington State Library, and a $50 gift card from Target at the awards ceremony in Olympia in May.  Tyler wrote his letter to Brian Greene about his book The Elegant Universe.

There were 2,875 Washington students who entered the 2009-2010 contest.  There were 177 semifinalists at all three levels.  At Level I, there were 1,413 entries with 45 semifinalists selected.  At Level II, there were 1,107 entries with 83 semifinalists selected.  And, at Level III, there were 356 entries with 49 semifinalists selected.  All semifinalists received an award certificate in the mail.

From the 177 Washington semifinalists, the state judges selected three champions, three second-place runners up, and 24 honorable mentions.  The three champions’ letters were forwarded to the national level competition.  The state judges were impressed by the sincerity and quality writing of all the semi-finalist letters.

Many Washington schools from around the state had students enter this year’s contest.  We appreciate the support of teachers, librarians, and parents for Letters About Literature.

Our special thanks to this year’s judges:

Level I
Erica Bauermeister, author, Seattle
Sydney Stevens, retired teacher, Oysterville
Josh Westbrook, Prescott Library Manager, Walla Walla County Rural Library District, Walla Walla

Level II
Linda Pierce, Collection Development Librarian, Foley Library, Gonzaga University, Spokane
Jan Walsh, State Librarian, Washington State Library, Olympia
Deborah Stilson, librarian, Yakima Valley Libraries, Yakima

Level III
Pam Griffith, Project Cataloger, Washington State Library, Olympia
Marlys Rudeen, Deputy State Librarian, Washington State Library, Olympia
Brent Hartinger, author, Seattle

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 fifth year Washington State Library has sponsored the competition as part of Washington Reads.

Readers in grades 4-12 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 I is grades 4-6; Level II is grades 7-8; and Level III 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 Center for the Book, Library of Congress and Target stores.

To read about the Letters About Literature program at the national level, please see below:

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

Washington's previous programs:
Washington's Letters About Literature program 2005-2006
Washington's Letters About Literature program 2006-2007
Washington's Letters About Literature program 2007-2008

Washington's Letters About Literature program 2008-2009

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