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Press Release
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The Center for the Book at New Hampshire State Library

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Russell, 603-271-2866
May 4, 2009

2009 Letters About Literature NEW HAMPSHIRE Winners

The Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library has announced the state’s winners in the 2009 Letters About Literature competition.

The winners—Peyton Plante of Pembroke, Merisa Dion of Derry, and Heather Coen of Contoocook—will each receive a cash prize and a gift card to Target Stores. Additionally, their letters were sent on as entries in the national LAL competition.

Letters About Literature (LAL) is a reading and writing promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target Stores and coordinated in New Hampshire by the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library. To enter, young readers wrote a personal letter to an author explaining how his or her work changed their view of the world or themselves.

Readers selected authors from any genre—fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. There were three competition levels in the program: upper elementary, middle school, and high school. The contest theme encouraged young readers to explore their personal response to a book and then express that response in a creative, original way.

This year there were 54,000 entries nationwide and 802 letters were received from New Hampshire students. Fifty-five New Hampshire semi-finalists were selected across the three competition levels by a panel of judges working on behalf of the Library of Congress. New Hampshire’s three winners were selected from this group of outstanding letters.

Peyton Plante, a sixth grader at Three Rivers School, wrote a letter to Lois Lowry about her book Number the Stars, which was selected as the Granite State's first place winner in the Level I competition for students in grades 4 through 6. Ms. Plante wrote that this book taught her "how important it is to stand up for people who appear to be different."

Merisa Dion, an eighth grader at West Running Brook Middle School in Derry, wrote to Allen Say about Allison. Ms. Dion's letter describes her experience of having been adopted and thanks Mr. Say for helping her, through his book, to "become more understanding about adoption." This letter was the Granite State's first place winner in the level II competition for students in grades 7 and 8.

Heather Coen, a ninth grader at Hopkinton High School, wrote her letter, which was selected as the Granite State's first place winner at level III, to Martha Tod Dudman. She begins: "Augusta Gone affected me in a way I never thought a book could. It was like a book about my life, although it was more severe and intense." Ms. Coen goes on to explain how this book, which she has read many times, helped her to recognize that she "needed to change something" so she "wouldn't become Augusta."

The New Hampshire LAL judges for 2009 were Ann Hoey, Youth Services Coordinator at the New Hampshire State Library; Matthew Crosson, an English teacher at Manchester High School Central; Kristie Morris, a teacher at Lin-Wood Public School in Lincoln, NH; the poet, balladeer, and attorney John Perrault; and children's authors Jennifer Ericsson and Muriel Dubois.

The mission of the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library is to celebrate and promote reading, books, literacy, and the literary heritage of New Hampshire and to highlight the role that reading and libraries play in enriching the lives of the people of the Granite State. Participating in the national Letters About Literature program gives the Center for the Book an opportunity to celebrate the role of reading, and writing, in the lives of the hundreds of New Hampshire students who submitted letters across all three competition levels.

For the full text of the winning Letters About Literature please visit our website at http://www.state.nh.us/nhsl/bookcenter/programs/letters.html

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