Of course, this is from our state here, but I'm sure you've got some cool kids in your state too:
The Michigan Center for the Book announced the three state winners of Letters About Literature, a national writing contest in which young readers wrote letters to authors, living or dead, describing how the authors' work changed the students' way of thinking. One of the state winners also received recognition at the competition's national level.
"We received many thoughtful, heartfelt letters that demonstrate the power of books to touch the lives and engage the minds of young people," said Michigan Center for the Book Coordinator Karren Reish. "Each year we welcome this opportunity to help foster Michigan students' interest in literature and encourage them to cultivate the reading and writing skills that are key to academic success."
The Michigan winners are:
Level 1 (grades 4-6) - Valerie Reeves of Mancelona who wrote to author Erin Hunter about the book Warriors: Dawn.
Reeves reflected on how the book taught her about the value of teamwork and leadership, writing: "When I was younger, I sometimes felt like I was a loner at school. I always wanted my mom to go to school with me because I didn't want to be alone. I felt just like the rogue cat, Yellow Fang, who was without a clan. After reading your book, Warriors: Dawn, I found I wanted to be a warrior, too."
Level 2 (grades 7-8) - Daniel Harrison of Kalamazoo who wrote to author Ben Mikaelsen about the book Touching Spirit Bear.
In his letter, Harrison expressed how the book inspired him to change his negative behavior: "About two years ago, I had been a real bully. I used to pick on kids and call them names and not even realize how much of a jerk I was. I had been in trouble a couple times, and ended up in detention. It was there, ironically, where I read your book, Touching Spirit Bear. It transformed my life."
Level 3 (grades 9-12) - Nilesh Raval of Saginaw who wrote to author Jhumpa Lahiri about the book The Namesake. Raval also was named one of 12 Letters About Literature national honorable mention winners (four per level of competition) and will receive an additional $100 Target gift card and an additional $1,000 grant for the selected library.
Raval's letter described lessons learned about pride in our unique cultural heritage and identity: "After reading your culturally enlightening novel, The Namesake, I have realized the importance of my name in Indian culture and that I am not alone when it comes to possessing an unusual one. ... The Namesake has compelled me to understand that a name has an inherently profound power to shape its bearer. It has bestowed upon me a newfound respect for names in our culture."