Has a book touched your life in a personal way? Perhaps you have strongly identified with a character in your favorite book. Young readers from across the state were invited to participate in Letters About Literature (LAL), a national reading and writing contest asking students to write a personal letter to an author explaining on how that author’s work somehow changed the readers’ view of their world.
The national competition is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in partnership with Target. The state level competition is also sponsored by the Alabama Center for the Book, located at the University of Alabama Libraries.
“This year almost 70,000 students entered the national competition,” said Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann, director of the Alabama Center for the Book. “Alabama’s entries from public, private, and home schools continue to grow with over 400 – a record number.”
Judges for the Alabama Center for the Book selected the top letters in the state on each of the three levels of competition: Level 1 for students in grades 4 – 6; Level 2 for students in grades 7 – 8; and Level 3 for grades 9 – 12.
Level 1 winners are: First–place, Ellie Guyader, Advent Episcopal School, for The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink; Second-place, Phillip McKenzie, The Montgomery Academy for Marley and Me by John Grogan; and Third-place, Alexis Rueve, Highlands School, for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Level 2 winners are: First-place, Gabrielle Aboki, Baldwin Arts & Academics, for A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes; Second-place, Ben Dasher, Advent Episcopal School, for The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien; Third-place, Afsaneh Faki, Advent Episcopal School, for Dreamland by Sarah Dessen; and Honorable Mention, Michelle Bui, Oxford Middle School, for Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
Level 3 winners are: First-place, Mary Locker, Florence High School, for The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway; Second-place, Gabrielle Lindley, Florence High School, for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; Third-place, Shejuti Paul, Florence High School, for House of Spirits by Isabel Allende; and Honorable Mention, name withheld.
State winners were announced April 16, 2011 at the Alabama Book Festival in
Montgomery. First place winners received a $50 Target Gift Card and all winners received cash prizes from the Alabama Center for the Book.
Level 2 winner, Gabriel Aboki, advanced to the final round of national judging placing her letter within the top 11 entries in the country. The six national winners (two per level of competition), and twelve national honorable mention winners (four per level of competition) will be announced at a future date.
The national winners will receive a $500 Target gift card, plus each will win a $10,000 LAL Reading Promotion Grant for their community or school library. Additionally, the national honorable mention winners will each receive a $100 Target gift card and a $1,000 LAL Reading Promotion Grant for the community or school library of their choice.