Students from Billings captured top honors in this year’s Montana Letters About Literature writing contest. Michelle Mullowney, Billings West High School, Billings won second place at the high school level for her letter to Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon. Geneva Copeland from Billings West High School, Billings, won third place at the high school level for her letter to Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes. Judges selected the winning entries from 462 submissions statewide in three separate age categories.
Letters About Literature is a reading and writing promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Presented in partnership with Target Stores, the program is sponsored at the state level by Humanities Montana and the Montana Center for the Book.
“We are so grateful for the eloquence, creativity and dedication of these younger readers,” said Ken Egan, executive director of Humanities Montana. “They are demonstrating that Montana’s rich literary tradition has a promising future. And thanks to the teachers who encouraged the award winners and all participants.”
To enter, young readers write personal letters to authors explaining how their work changed their views of the world or themselves. Readers selected authors from any genre—from fiction or nonfiction, contemporary to classic. The program has three competition levels: upper elementary, middle school and secondary. The contest theme encourages young readers to explore their responses to a book and then express those responses in a creative, original way.
The state winners in the three age categories are:
Level I, grades 4–6
Level II, grades 7–8
Level III, grades 9–12
Montana finalists each receive a cash prize, and state first-place winners each receive a $50 gift card to Target Stores. First-place winners also were entered in the national contest.
This year’s LAL state judges were English Professor Penny Hughes-Briant at The University of Great Falls, Missoula author Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Professor of English Emeritus Sharon Beehler at MSU-Bozeman, and Humanities Montana Program Assistant Samantha Dwyer. Guidelines for the 2013 Letters About Literature program will be posted in August on the Humanities Montana website.
Humanities Montana is the state’s independent nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 1972, Humanities Montana has provided services and grants to hundreds of Montana organizations in support of public programs in history, literature, values, and public issues. Among its many programs are its grants, Montana Conversations: Speakers Bureau and Speakers in the Schools, the Humanities Montana Festival of the Book, Letters About Literature, and the Governor’s Humanities Awards.