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Funding for this project is provided by the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the West Virginia Library Commission.
















1900 Kanawha Blvd. E.

Charleston, WV 25305

Telephone:  304.558.3978 or 800.642.9021

Fax:  304.558.1612



12:00 p.m. EDT, Monday

April 22, 2008


Lori Smuthkochorn

Communications–Public Information Specialist

West Virginia Library Commission

(304) 558-2534 / lori@wvlc.lib.wv.us


 West Virginia Center for the Book Announces State Writing Awards

Three winning Letters About Literature essays advance to national competition


Charleston, W.Va. – Rachel Hoffpauir, a ninth grade student at Magnolia High School, has taken top honors in this year’s West Virginia Letters About Literature writing contest. Judges selected Hoffpauir’s letter to Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies Trilogy, as the first place winner in Level III competition for children in grades 9 through 12.

“They taught me that taking leaps of faith aren’t as scary as they’ve always been made out to me,” wrote fourteen year-old Hoffpauir. “I’m facing new challenges now, like participating in the school musical, which I never would have been able to do before.”

The state finalist for competition level II (grades 7 through 8) was Alexandra Flanigan of Morgantown for her letter to J.R.R. Tolkien for Lord of the Rings. The state finalist for Level I (grades 4 through 6) was Laken Autrey of Princeton, who wrote to Kimberly Willis Holt about My Louisiana Sky. All essays awarded top honors advanced to national competition.

Approximately 56,000 young readers across the country participated in this year’s Letters About Literature competition, a reading promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target. In West Virginia, 177 children in grades 4 through 6 competed in Level I this year, but only 24 were selected as finalists. In Level II, grades 7 through 8, 318 children competed with 31 selected as finalists. Thirty-one of 292 competitors from grades 9 through 12 were selected as finalists in Level III. Overall, 787 West Virginia youth competed for prizes this year. State funders include the West Virginia Center for the Book hosted by the West Virginia Library Commission in partnership with the West Virginia Humanities Council.

To enter, young readers write a personal letter to an author explaining how his or her work changed their view of the world or themselves. Readers can select authors from any genre—fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. The program has three competition levels: upper elementary, middle school, and secondary. The contest theme encourages young readers to explore his or her personal response to a book then express that response in a creative, original way.

At an awards ceremony held April 15, 2008, in the Cultural Center in Charleston, awardees received a certificate, an autographed copy of the West Virginia National Library Week poster, a personalized bookmark, and an anthology containing the letters awarded top honors, honors, and honorable mention. West Virginia Education and the Arts Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin, a frequent guest at the awards presentation said to those in attendance, “Reading brings to our fingertips the wisdom of the ages, from all cultures and time. It is the most inexpensive way of learning about life, and the most efficient way of absorbing the accumulated learnings of the past.” 

In addition to Secretary Goodwin, notable West Virginia author, Gretchen Laskas presented an animated, audience engaging speech. J.D. Waggoner, Secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission, delivered the opening comments and assisted the guest speakers in presenting the student awards. Top honors and honors awardees in each division receive a cash award of $100 or $50, compliments of the West Virginia Humanities Council.       Additionally, the top honors writer in each level receives a $50 gift card, compliments of Target Stores. All top honors essays advance to national competition where judges for The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress select six (6) National Winners and twelve (12) National Honorable Mention Winners. The National Winners will receive a $500 Target GiftCard, plus each will win a $10,000 LAL Reading Promotion Grant for their community or school library so that others can experience personal relationships with authors and the stories they tell. Additionally, the National Honorable Mention Winners will each receive a $100 Target GiftCard and a $1,000 LAL Reading Promotion Grant for the community or school library of their choice. Community or school library selected for the National Winners and National Honorable Mention Winners is at the Sponsor’s sole discretion. For additional information and a complete list of national finalists, please visit www.wvcenterforthebook@lib.wv.us

Minneapolis-based Target serves guests at 1,591 stores in 47 states nationwide by delivering today’s best retail trends at affordable prices. Target (NYSE:TGT) gives more than $3 million a week to its local communities through grants and special programs. Since opening its first store in 1962, Target has partnered with nonprofit organizations, guests and team members to help meet community needs.


About the West Virginia Center for the Book www.wvcenterforthebook.lib.wv.us

Established in 2001 as an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the West Virginia Center for the Book celebrates the rich literary heritage of West Virginia through its projects and programs. It is hosted by the West Virginia Library Commission in partnership with the West Virginia Humanities Council and is located in Charleston, West Virginia.  For additional information about the program in West Virginia, contact WVCFTB Coordinator Karen Goff at 304-558-3978.


About the West Virginia Library Commission  http://librarycommission.lib.wv.us

The mission of the West Virginia Library Commission is to promote, assist, and support the development of effective and efficient library services that ensure all citizens in the state access to the highest quality library services and information resources to meet their needs.

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Last modified: 09/16/08