Friday, April 6, 2012

"Letters About Literature": And the Winners Are …

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Each year, the "Letters About Literature" writing contest, a national program administered locally by Humanities Tennessee, asks grade school, middle school, and high school students to pick a favorite piece of writing — it can be fiction or nonfiction, a short story, a poem, an essay, or a speech — and reflect on it, connect with it, and report on it. The result: a personal letter to the author to say how his or her work affected a student's life. I was glad to act as one of the contest judges. And I'm happy to report the winners for grades 9 through 12. They are:

1st place: Daniel Zuo, of White Station High School here in Memphis, who wrote to Dr. Seuss about The Cat in the Hat.

2nd place: Hanna Lustig, of Houston High School in Germantown. Hanna's letter was to Ray Bradbury about his novel Dandelion Wine.

3rd place: Victoria Gray, of Germantown High School, who also wrote to Dr. Seuss, in response to Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?.

All three students win a cash prize from Humanities Tennessee, and Daniel Zuo wins a full scholarship to the Tennessee Young Writers' Workshop and a gift card from contest sponsor Target. Daniel also moves to the national "Letters About Literature" competition conducted by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Winners of the national contest will be announced at the end of April.

According to Lacey Cook of Humanities Tennessee, this year's "Letters About Literature" contest received more than a thousand entries statewide. But for our Memphis-area winners, let's remember their teachers too. They are: Suzanne Wexler of White Station High, Natalie Parker-Lawrence of Houston High, and Billy Pullen of Germantown High.

For all the Tennessee winners — and their letters — in this year's "Letters About Literature" contest, go to

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