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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Letters About Literature 2016

Nine students across Mississippi won awards in this year’s Mississippi Letters About Literature writing contest. Approximately 50,000 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. The Friends of Mississippi Libraries were a partner on the state level.

To enter, young readers write personal letters to authors, explaining how their work changed their view of the world or themselves. Readers can select authors from any genre—fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. The contest theme encourages a young reader to explore his or her personal response to a book, then express that response in a creative, original way.

In Mississippi, approximately 500 students competed across all three competition levels; only 50 letters advanced to state semifinals. From those, 30 were selected to advance as state finalists for judging.

The Mississippi Library Commission hosted an awards ceremony and reception on April 29 to honor state semifinalists, finalists, and winners. After a welcome and remarks by Mississippi Center for the Book Coordinator Tracy Carr, the nine state winners were invited to read their letters aloud. The students then received their awards, and afterwards light refreshments were served.

The first place state finalist for competition Level I (grades 4 through 6) was Isyss Jones of Newton for her letter to Rachel Renee Russel. The first place state finalist for Level II (grades 7 and 8) was Kyran Williams-Roberts of Starkville, who wrote a letter to J.K. Rowling. Victoria Kinsey of Pontotoc was the first place state finalist for competition Level III (grades 9-12) for her letter to J.R.R. Tolkien. Mississippi first-place finalists each receive a $100 cash prize and their letters move on to the national competition.

State winner Victoria Kinsey’s letter also moved on to the national semifinals.

Other state winners include: Peyton Burton of Pass Christian (second place, Level I); Catherine Li of Starkville (second place, Level II); Denis Martinez of Ecru (second place, Level III); Darron Griffin II of Clarksdale (third place, Level I); Sophie Lanier of Pass Christian (third place, Level II); and Skyler Turner of Ecru (third place, Level III). Second-place winners receive a $75 cash prize and third-place winners receive a $50 cash prize. All state winners receive a medal inscribed with their name and ranking; all state semifinalists receive a certificate of achievement.

Megan Bryant, a teacher at Pass Christian Middle School, won the Educator of the Year award for encouraging the most students to submit letters.

The Mississippi Center for the Book is one of 50 state affiliates of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The Center's mission is to promote books, reading, libraries and literacy in society. The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. More specifically, Mississippi's Center for the Book is devoted to promoting and exploring Mississippi's rich literary heritage through statewide activities.

For more information, contact Mississippi Center for the Book Coordinator Tracy Carr at or visit

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