Wisconsin Center for the Book

Celebrating and promoting books and the book arts throughout Wisconsin.


Letters about Literature Winners 2016!


Nine students win state reading awards

NEENAH, WI. – Nine students from across the state were named 2015-16 winners in the Letters about Literature contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for the Book.

The nine were more than 560 Wisconsin students in grades 4-12 who participated in this year’s Letters about Literature contest. The contest invites young readers to write a letter to an author describing how that author’s work changed their view of the world or of themselves.

The first- and second-place plus honorable mention winners were chosen from a group of 90 semi-finalists in various grade levels (Level 1 – Grades 4-6; Level II – Grades 7-8; and Level III – Grades 9-12). First-place winners at all three levels are sent on to the national Letters about Literature competition for judging and additional prizes.

More than 52,125 young readers across the country participated in this year’s Letters about Literature contest.

The nine winners, their schools and the authors and books they wrote about were:

LEVEL 1 -- Grades 4-6

First Place: Joyce Essuman, Grade 6, Glen Hills Middle School, Glendale, John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars.”

Second Place: Lauren Sagmeister, Grade 6, South Park Middle School, Oshkosh, John Green’s “Paper Towns.”

Honorable Mention: Mia Kiefer, Grade 4, Glen Hills Middle School, Glendale, Sharon Creech’s “Walk Two Moons.”

LEVEL 2 -- Grades 7-8

First Place: Hannah Mei-en Hippe, Grade 7, Golda Meir Middle School, Milwaukee, S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders.”

Second Place: Eli Shlimovitz, Grade 8, Madison Country Day School, Waunakee, Homer’s “The Iliad.”

Honorable Mention: Megan Nielsen, Grade 8, Templeton Middle School, Sussex, John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars.”


LEVEL 3 -- Grades 9-12

First Place: Holly McFarlane, Grade 12, Poynette High School, Poynette, Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

Second Place: Chia Lee, Grade 12, Wausau West High School, Wausau, Walt Disney’s “Cinderella.”

Honorable Mention: Logyn Steinmann, Grade 10, Juda High School, Juda, John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars.”

The awards ceremony was held at the Neenah Public Library on April 23, 2016. The Letters about Literature program in Wisconsin has been coordinated by the Wisconsin Center for the Book since 1992 in partnership with the Library of Congress.



Teachers--get your students engaged with Letters about Literature using the handy tips found in the Library of Congress' Teaching Booklet!  Inside you'll find sample lessons and helpful worksheets!

Letters about Literature Teaching Booklet 2015



Letters about Literature

Center for the Book

Get ready! Submissions for the 2015-2016 Letters about Literature contest will open on November 2!

Letters about Literature (LAL) is a writing contest for young readers in grades 4-12, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Wisconsin Center for the Book. Students write a letter to an author of a fiction or nonfiction book, a short story or poem describing how the work changed the students’ view of the world or of themselves. Students are asked to do reflective writing rather than a book report. Entries are judged at both the state and national levels and prizes are awarded for the best letter at various grade levels.

LAL awards thousands of dollars each year through state and national prizes. This year, the 23rd annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations.

Last year, some 50,000 students from around the United States (including 400 from Wisconsin) entered the competition.

Details for the program can be found on the Web site www.read.gov/letters. The site also outlines lesson plans for teachers who want to incorporate the contest into their curriculum as well as information on how the exercise relates to the Common Core State Standards.

There are two postmark deadlines for submissions. For grades 9-12 it’s Dec. 4, 2015; for submissions from grades 4-8 it’s Jan. 11, 2016.

Contact: Mary Lou Santovec, Wisconsin Coordinator, 208 E. Prospect St., Lake Mills WI 53551; santovec@gmail.com or 920-945-0610 for more information.


A Settler's Year: Pioneer Life through the Seasons by Kathleen Ernst

Be sure to check out Wisconsin author Kathleen Ernst's new book, A Settler's Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons, a glimpse at the homes and landscape of early Wisconsin settlers. 

From the Wisconsin Historical Society Press:

"Ernst's newest nonfiction book weaves a seasonal tapestry of Midwestern pioneer life -- tying Ernst's poignant essays together with evocative color photographs taken by award-winning photographer Loyd Heath at Old World Wisconsin, the country's largest outdoor museum of rural life. This page-turning journey traverses the seasons from sprawling farms to cramped smoky cabins and from a tidy crossroads village to gracious, well-furnished home.

Readers experience the back-straining chores, cherished folk traditions, annual celebrations, and indomitable spirit that comprised pioneer life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From spring blossoms to winter's tranquility and everything in between, the changing seasons provide a beautiful backdrop to display the diverse work of settlers.

At its heart, "A Settler's Year" is about people dreaming of, searching for, and creating new homes in a new land. This moving book transports us back to the pioneer era and inspires us to explore the stories found on our own family trees through the blending of photographs and history.

To explore Midwestern pioneer life in person and learn more about Old World Wisconsin visit the museum's web site here."


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