Rebekah Manley

Coordinator, Texas Center for the Book

2016 Letters About Literature Reading/Writing Program Winners Announced

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 • Austin, Texas • News Release

Ten students have won the Texas portion of the 2016 Letters About Literature Competition, sponsored in part by the Texas Center for the Book. This national reading and writing program, initiated by the Library of Congress, gives 4th-12th graders a chance to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book has affected their lives. Nationally, close to 50,000 students wrote letters and since 1997 more than a million students have participated.

Over 1,800 students participated statewide, making personal connections to literature. Out of the 481 letters that advanced to the second round, 126 made it to the final round of judging at The Texas Center for the Book, an office of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Judges scored the letters based on organization, idea development, language and emotional connection. The final round averaged 11 letters in each level.  

The Texas Center for the Book is proud to announce this year’s winners.

Level 1 (grades 4-6): 
1. Benjamin Hu of Sugar Land
2. Zainab Mansoor of Houston
Tie for 3rd Place:

  • Eladio Zamora of Pharr
  • Alexandros Costas Jacoby of Dallas

Level 2 (grades 7-8):
1.  Sarah Helmbrecht of Austin
2. Lauren Hockema of Austin
3. Ainsley Murnahan of Fort Worth
Level 3 (grades 9-12):
1.  Tiffany Wang of Denton
2. Alex Montellano of Paris
3. Salma Ruiz of Mission

For a complete list of winners and their letters, visit:

On April 20th, first place winners will read their letters and be honored at the Texas Association of School Librarians (TASL) meeting at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association in Houston. These top letters are now at the National Competition.

“Students made such profound connections with the written word,” commented Rebekah Manley, Coordinator of the Texas Center for the Book.  “This opportunity takes words off pages, creates a heart connection to story and organically cultivates life-long readers.”

The Texas Center for the Book, formerly housed at the Dallas Public Library, relocated to Austin in the Fall of 2015, holds an all-age focus. One of 50 state centers affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Texas Center for the Book, under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, promotes books, literacy, and reading through various activities. For more information contact Rebekah Manley at 512-936-2505 or visit