Rebekah Manley

Coordinator, Texas Center for the Book

2017 Letters About Literature Reading/Writing Program Winners Announced

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 • Austin, Texas • News Release

Nine students have won the Texas round of the 2017 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 40,000 students wrote letters and since 1997 more than a million students have participated.

This year’s winners responded to a diverse set of authors.

Level 1 (grades 4-6): 
1. Celina Prieur of Dallas wrote Mark Haddon
2. Haylie Stobaugh of Dallas wrote R.J. Palacio
3. Cash Carter of Dallas wrote Laura Ingalls Wilder

Level 2 (grades 7-8):
1. Cynthia N. Onyiorah of McAllen wrote Jodi Picoult
2. Archer Calder of Cypress wrote Sharon Draper
3. Jimena I. Sotelo of McAllen wrote Michelle Hodkin

Level 3 (grades 9-12):
1. Isabel Hu of League City wrote Barbara Kingsolver
2.  Colby Menefee of Buffalo wrote Lauren Drain
3. Avery Gann of Parker wrote J.K. Rowling

Over 2,000 Texas students participated, making personal connections to literature. Out of the 1,687 letters that advanced to the second round, 137 made it to the 3rd 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. Around 15 letters in each level were sent out to statewide judges for the final round.

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 San Antonio. 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.”

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

The Texas Center for the Book is one of 50 state centers affiliated with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Under the direction of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, TCFB promotes books, literacy, and reading through various activities. For more information contact Rebekah Manley at 512-936-2505 or visit