Two students get the surprise of their lives!
The Letters About Literature (LAL) contest asks students to write a letter to their favorite author explaining how their book changed their view of the world or themselves. The contest instructions encourage students to: “Write honestly and in your own voice, as if you were having a conversation with the author”. Since the letters are received at a central contest headquarters where they are read by a team of dedicated judges, most students submit letters and never expect to have an actual conversation with the author whose book has inspired them.
However that is exactly what happened to two Maryland students who won awards in last year’s Letters About Literature contest.
Last week we received an email from Bob Ortiz whose daughter won a second place award at the high school level: “You may (or may not) remember my daughter, Sofia Ortiz who wrote about The Soloist by Steve Lopez. I thought I’d let you know that this past Friday evening the phone rang at our home. By chance, Sofia answered the phone. On the other end of the line was Steve Lopez calling from California where he works at the L.A. Times. (Sofia’s grandmother had sent him a copy of her letter.) They spoke for about ten minutes. When Sofia hung up the phone, there was a prolonged scream. They mostly spoke about music; he told her that he would pass on her letter to “the soloist”, Nathaniel Ayers. Mr. Lopez urged Sofia to stay in touch”.
Maryland middle schooler, Claire Wang took to the stage at the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington, DC this past September to read her award winning letter to Katherine Paterson about the book Bridge to Terabithia. She had been invited to read by the Library of Congress (the sponsor of LAL). Sitting next to Claire was Katherine Paterson who was deeply moved by Claire’s letter. “It makes me very happy to know that you took from my book how precious friendship is,” Paterson told Claire.“No one should tell you what the book should mean to you. The reader-author relationship is unique and very personal,” she emphasized.
Do you ever dream of having a conversation with your favorite author? Who would that author be? What would you say? Let us know!
The Letters About Literature contest deadline for this year is December 10, 2010.
Guidelines are available on our website at www.mdhc.org/files/238_LAL%20guidelines%202010%202011%20FINAL.pdf.
Tags: Letters About Literature