Published April 14, 2017

We are pleased to announce the 2017 winners of the Letters About Literature contest in Virginia! Now in its 24th year, the contest encourages students in grades 4-12 to read a book, poem, or speech and write to that author about how the book affected them.

Out of more than 1,000 entries, state-wide honors for Virginia winners were awarded by grade levels to:

  • Level I (grades 4-6): Fatima Mouslik (Arlington) on The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  • Level II (grades 7-8): Jocelyn Yee (Ashburn) on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Level III (grades 9-12): Samantha Lynn Kiss (Chesapeake) on Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Virginia Center for the Book director Jane Kulow honored winners during the 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book Opening Ceremony on Wednesday, March 22, in Charlottesville at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. Each winner received a $100 prize and the donation of a book to their school or local library. All three winners will proceed to the national judging, and national winners will be announced in May 2017. 

Students receiving honorable mentions are:

Level I (grades 4-6):

  • Nathan Moldavsky (Vienna) on Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  • Zainab Rentia (Annandale) on Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  • Ellie Shaps (Charlottesville) on Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
  • Tenzin Werner (Annandale) on The Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
  • Jessica Ye (Vienna) on A Work in Progress by Connor Franta

Level II (grades 7-8):

  • Anya Ambarish (Sterling) on A Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim
  • Emily Burton (Chester) on The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  • Porter DuHadway (Sterling) on The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Ethan Nguyen (Richmond) on Keeper by Mal Peet

Level III (grades 9-12):

  • William Cho (McLean) on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Jada Mabe (Annandale) on 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff
  • James Potthast (Arlington) on Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther
  • Niharika Vattikonda (Herndon) on Born Bright by Nicole Mason

The 24th 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. The 2018 contest will open in November 2017.

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