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West Virginia Honors Children Who Celebrate Their Favorite Authors with “Letters About Literature”

For Immediate Release, June 4, 2013
 
West Virginia Honors Children Who Celebrate Their Favorite Authors with  “Letters About Literature”
 
Charleston, WV. In a ceremony in the State Culture Center on Wednesday, May 29, West
Virginia showed its appreciation to a group of young West Virginia readers who wrote letters to
their favorite authors in a program called Letters About Literature, a national writing challenge
for students in grades 4 through 10.
 
“The young writers we honor today have demonstrated, through their writing skills, how much
literature impacts the lives of everyone, said John Paul Myrick, Library Development Director of
the West Virginia Library Commission and Coordinator of the West Virginia Center for the Book.
“We may not immediately recognize it, but literature impacts many of the things we do, say,
think and feel daily. Literature reflects our culture, our thought, and our destiny as a state and
nation.”
 
Young readers participate in Letters About Literature by writing letters to the authors of their
favorite books, fiction or non-fiction, explaining how the author’s work has been important to
them personally. Entrants, who must be at least nine years old, are grouped for evaluation:
Level 1, grades 4-6; Level 2, grades 7-8, and Level 3, grades 9-10.
 
More than 49,000 students across the nation competed in 2013. This year in West Virginia, 553
students submitted letters to the competition. Six judges from across the state evaluated the
letters and awarded top honors, honors, honorable mention and notable mention awards to 168
entrants.
 
Top honors winners received $100 each. Honors winners received $50 each. Prize money was
provided by the West Virginia Humanities Council. State winners go on to the national
competition, where the top prize is $1,000.
 
One student won top honors for each of the three levels. Level 1 winner Kennah Salmons of
Crum Middle School wrote to Lois Lowry about her novel Number the Stars: “Your book has
inspired my life since I was just an adolescent girl. It has helped me through a lot of struggles
and many challenging toils.”
 
Level 2 winner Mckenzi Olonko of Princeton Middle School wrote to James Patterson about his
novel Witch and Wizard: The Gift: “All in all, I loved your book and look forward to more. With
this book I learned and found out about a lot that happens in life.”
 
Level 3 winner Althea Wheaton of The Linsly School wrote to John Green about his novel
Looking for Alaska: “It was around fourth grade when I discovered words. The way they fit
together so perfectly in a sentence, then sentences forming into paragraphs, and paragraphs
forming stories. I wasn’t sure of much, but I was sure that I was going to be a writer.”
 
West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman was the featured speaker at this year’s Letters
About Literature ceremony. “Books have opened doors throughout my life,” Harshman said.
“And all those journeys started at the little door of the library.”
 
Karen Goff, Secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission, presented awards to the
winners.
 
The West Virginia Center for the Book, in partnership with the West Virginia Humanities Council,
sponsors Letters About Literature annually in West Virginia. The awards ceremony is held each
spring in Charleston.
 
The West Virginia Center for the Book, an affiliate of the National Center for the Book at the
Library of Congress, strives to foster an appreciation of the literature that shapes our lives daily.
Through programs such as Letters About Literature, it helps West Virginians further appreciate
books and literature while promoting our state’s rich literary heritage.
 
The West Virginia Center for the Book is a project of the West Virginia Library Commission,
which encourages lifelong learning, individual empowerment, civic engagement and an enriched
quality of life by enhancing library and information services for all West Virginians. Find more
information at: www.librarycommission.wv.gov.
 
Click here for the full list of winners and honorable mentions:  www.librarycommission.wv.gov/publications/Documents/Press%20release%20Letters%20about%20Literature%20053113.pdf
 
Contact: Preston Richardson, Information Specialist
E-mail: preston.i.richardson@wv.gov
Phone: (304) 558-3978, ext. 2010
Fax: (304) 558-1612
www.librarycommission.wv.gov
 
West Virginia Library Commission
Culture Center, 1900 Kanawha Blvd., E.
Charleston, WV 25305-0620