Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

April 28, 2011

Letters About Literature Reading-Writing Program Winners Announced

Six Libraries to Receive $10,000 Grants from Target

Letters About Literature, a national reading and writing program that asks young people in grades 4 through 12 to write to an author (living or dead) about how his or her book affected their lives, has announced its 2011 winners.

Approximately 70,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year’s initiative, a reading-promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target. The number of participants equaled last year’s record total.

This year’s winners come from all parts of the country and wrote to authors as diverse as Erin Hunter, author of "Into the Wild"; J.M. Barrie, author of "Peter Pan"; Sylvia Plath, author of "The Bell Jar"; and Daniel Defoe, author of "Robinson Crusoe."

The top letters in each competition level for each state were chosen. Then, two national winners were chosen from each of the three competition levels: Level 1 (grades 4-6), Level 2 (grades 7-8) and Level 3 (grades 9-12). Each national winner designates a favorite library that he or she wishes to receive a $10,000 grant from Target. The winning students each receive a $500 Target GiftCard.

The four National Honors recipients from each competition level designate a library to receive a $1,000 Target grant; those students each receive a $50 Target GiftCard.

Target sponsors Letters About Literature as part of its commitment to supporting education and early childhood reading. Target recognizes the integral role that reading plays in shaping a child’s future, because reading is the foundation for lifelong learning and success. Since opening its doors, Target has given 5 percent of its income to organizations that support education, social services and the arts.

On the state level, the program is sponsored by affiliate state centers for the book. State and national judges include published authors, editors, publishers, librarians and teachers.

National Winners
Level 1 (Grades 4-6):

Taylor Mathews, 6th grade, Southwest Middle School, Searcy, Ark., who wrote to Erin Hunter, author of "Into the Wild."
Maryam Salah, 6th grade, Al-Hamra Academy, Shrewsbury, Mass., who wrote to Jerry Spinelli, author of "Maniac Magee."

Level 2 (Grades 7-8):

Christian Lusardi, 8th grade, Scotts Ridge Middle School, Ridgefield, Conn., who wrote to George Selden, author of "The Cricket in Times Square."
Audrey Wood, 7th grade, North Branch School, Afton, Va., who wrote to J.M. Barrie, author of "Peter Pan."

Level 3 (Grades 9-12):

Akash Kar, 11th grade, Saratoga High School, Saratoga, Calif., who wrote to Jhumpa Lahiri, author of "The Namesake."
Ashli Bynum, Forest Hills Northern High School, Ada, Mich., who wrote to Marge Piercy, author of "Barbie Doll."

National Honor Winners
Level 1 (Grades 4-6):

Conrad Oberhaus, 5th grade, Lincolnshire, Ill.
Nicholas Behrens, 6th grade, Falcon Heights, Minn.
Tristan Tudor, 6th grade, Seeley Lake, Mont.
Hanna Lee, 6th grade, Plano, Texas

Level 2 (Grades 7-8):

Heather Wiggins, 8th grade, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Solomon Polansky, 8th grade, Minnetonka, Minn.
Janet Snow, 8th grade, Elkin, N.C.
Abby Bateman, 7th grade, Snoqualmie, Wash.

Level 3 (Grades 9-12):

Ashlee BeGell, 9th grade, Mesa, Ariz.
Fabilola Urdaneta, 11th grade, Key Biscayne, Fla.
Daeun Kim, 11th grade, Norwood, N.J.
Neal Digre, 11th grade, Brookings, S.D.

The complete national winning letters are available in the "News" section at (external link).

For information about the program and a list of previous winners, visit For further details, contact the national program director at

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) serves guests at 1,740 stores in 49 states nationwide and at Since 1946, the corporation has given 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs like Take Charge of Education. Today, that giving equals more than $3 million a week.

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PR 11-090
ISSN 0731-3527

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