Letters About Literature Contest Winners Announced!

The Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) is pleased to announce the state winners of the 2009/2010 Letters About Literature (LAL) writing contest. Nimai Agarwal fromGermantown is the Level 1 (grades 4 to 6) first place winner. Claire Wang from Frederick is the Level 2 (grades 7 and 8) first place winner, and Carson Wigley from Berlin is the Level 3 (grades 9 to 12) first place winner.

Letters About Literature is a state and national writing contest that inspires young readers to respond to an author through a letter expressing how that author and book changed their worldview and themselves. In Nimai Agarwal’s first place letter, he writes to author Kate DiCamillo of The Tale of Despereaux, “I saw Despereaux in me […] Even though he was so small – small even by mousestandards – he did greater things than even his absolutely ‘normal’ peers. After reading Despereaux, I felt as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I felt I could achieve my dreams and ambition, even though I am short, and make everyone, including myself, happy.”

Claire Wang writes to author Katherine Patterson of Bridge to Terabithia about her best friend. “I will remember how Vicky impacted others through her cheerful, creative spirit and strong leadership. Instead of being timid and shy, I will try to help others with my leadership and smile to pass down the gift that Vicky left me.”

Carson Wigley writes to author Patricia Polocco of Thank You, Mr. Falkner about how she had to overcome obstacles to become a better a student.

On Saturday, April 17, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. MHC will recognize these first place winners along with second place winners Cecilia Hsu from Ellicott City, Alayne Lynch from Bethesda and Sofia Ortiz from Worton as well as 144 Maryland state finalists at the state awards ceremony at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in the Wheeler Auditorium. For a complete listing of Maryland winners, visitwww.mdhc.org/files/238_Maryland%20State%20Winners%20and%20Finalists%202010%20_2_.pdf

“It is inspiring to see how hard our Maryland students work to write letters expressing their thoughts and feelings. Also, it is wonderful to see how this contest encourages students to be better (and more active) readers and writers,” explains Jean Wortman, coordinator of the Maryland Center for the Book at MHC. “We at MHC are so proud of our state winners! And we are particularly excited to offer The Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year Award this year, a new prize for teachers, in honor of long-time MHC Board member Christine Sarbanes for her life-long commitment to reading and the humanities.”

The 2010 Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year Award will be presented to Cynthia Malek and Kathleen Mikos, a team of teachers from Patterson Mill Middle and High School in Bel Air.

Just under 70,000 adolescent and young adult readers nationwide participated in this year’s LAL program. This contest not only promotes reading and writing, but it also inspires creativity in young people and encourages them to be life-long readers. It develops critical reading and writing skills that students need to be successful both in their school careers and as adults. Fans of any genre, fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic, are invited to participate, with the chance to receive awards and recognition at the state and national level. For information on how students and teachers can enter the LAL contest, including free teaching resources to guide students through the reader response and writing process, visit the national program Web site at www.lettersaboutliterature.org.

Target sponsors LAL as part of its national reading initiative, “Ready. Sit. Read!,” which is aimed at fostering a love of reading among children at an early age. Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. The Maryland Center for the Book at MHC is the state coordinator for this national contest sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. For more information about the Maryland LAL contest, please visit the MHC Web site at www.mdhc.org/programs/maryland-center-for-the-book/letters-about-literature/.

For more information on LAL, contact Jean Wortman at jwortman@mdhc.org  or 410-685-4187.

The Maryland Humanities Council is a statewide, educational, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The purpose of MHC is to stimulate and promote informed dialogue and civic engagement on issues critical to Marylanders. For more information about MHC, please visit www.mdhc.org.