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Letters About Literature 2019

The Letters About Literature awards ceremony took place on Friday, May 3 in the rotunda of the Round House in Santa Fe.  The State Librarian, Eli Guinnee, welcomed everyone and awards were then presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary, Debra Garcia y Griego, to the three New Mexico state champions who read their letters aloud, the three second place winners, the three third place winners, and the honorable mention letter writers.

Galen Yane, a fifth grade student at Cien Aguas International School in Albuquerque, is the Level 1 champion.  Galen wrote his letter to Gordon Korman about his book, Schooled.

Rowaina Alaini, an eighth grade student at Desert Ridge Middle School in Albuquerque, is the Level 2 champion. Her letter is addressed to Enchanted Air author, Margarita Engle.

Emily Freeman, a tenth grade student at East Mountain High School in Sandia Park, is the Level 3 champion. Emily wrote her letter to Ned Vizzini about his book, It's Kind of a Funny Story.



Each of the state champions received a certificate acknowledging their achievement and $150 from the State Library. The second place letter writers also received a certificate acknowledging their achievement and $40 gift card for Collected Works Bookstore.  The third place writers received a certificate and a $35 gift card for Collected Works Bookstore; and the honorable mention writers also received a certificate and a $25 gift card for Collected Works Bookstore.  The three New Mexico champions' letters were sent to the Library of Congress for the national competition. The winners of the national competition will be announced in  late May.

Three hundred and ninety-three New Mexico students entered the 2019 contest.  Of those 393 entries, 135 writers advanced to round two and 68 writers advanced to round three.  In Level 1, there were 138 entries with 23 letters advancing to round three state judging.  In Level 2, there were 160 entries with 22 letters advancing to round three.  In Level 3, there were 95 entries with 23 letters moving on to round three state judging.

Our special thanks to the New Mexico judges:

Level 1 - Eli Guinnee, New Mexico State Librarian, Department of Cultural Affairs, Santa Fe; Norice Lee, Associate Library Director, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, Health Sciences Library, Las Cruces; Ben Wakashige, Retired State Librarian, Rio Rancho

Level 2 – Anne Price, Youth Services Manager, Octavia Fellin Public Library, Gallup; Malcolm Alonzo, Library Services Supervisor, The Public Library of Albuquerque and Bernalillo, Westgate Branch; Deanne Dekle, Youth Services & Outreach Consultant, New Mexico State Library, Santa Fe

Level 3 – Susan Beck, Professor and Head of Access Services, New Mexico State University Library, Las Cruces; Stephanie Wilson, Law Librarian Senior, Supreme Court Law Library, Santa Fe; Thomas D. Clagett, Author, Santa Fe

Letters About Literature encourages young readers in grades 4 -12 to read a book and write a personal letter to the author explaining how the book changed or shaped their perspective on themselves or the world. Students could write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Letter writers compete at three levels: Level I is grades 4-6; Level II is grades 7-8; and Level III is grades 9-12. The writers compete in the state contest to win $150 cash prize per competition level and a $1,000 cash award per competition level in the national contest.  One winning letter from each level from each state is entered into the final national competition.

This is the seventh year New Mexico State Library has sponsored the competition.

For more information about New Mexico’s Letters About Literature contest, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Lori Thornton at 505-476-9717.

To read about the Letters About Literature contest at the national level, please click here:

Thank you to all the students, teachers, librarians, and families who participated in New Mexico's Letters About Literature program. Keep reading and writing!

Letters About Literature, the 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.  In New Mexico, the contest is sponsored by the New Mexico State Library, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.