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Governor Terry Branstad to Address This Year's Letters About Literature Winners

The winners and honorable mentions of this year's Letters About Literature (LAL) contest will have the opportunity to read their letters to Governor Terry Branstad, as well as their teachers, parents and other guests at a ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, April 25 at the downtown Des Moines Public Library.

Letters About Literature is a national reading-writing program sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Iowa Center for the Book.

To enter, students in grades four through 12 write a letter to an author explaining how that author's work changed their way of thinking about the world or themselves. Readers respond to the work they have read by exploring the personal relationship between themselves, the author, and the book's characters or themes.

Iowa students submitted 1,931 letters in the national contest this year. Nationally, there were 50,000 letters. Iowa is among the top five participating states. There are three competition levels:

* Level 1 for students in grades 4 through 6
* Level 2 for students in grades 7 and 8
* Level 3 for students in grades 9 through 12.

All letters are submitted to the national Letters About Literature office. Letters from all participating states are read by national judges. Semifinalists' letters are returned to the state sponsors. In Iowa, a panel of judges for each competition level reads the semifinalists' letters and chooses first, second, and third place winners and three honorable mentions. The letters of first place winners are then returned to a panel of national judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress where one national winner per competition level will receive a $1,000 cash award.

Iowa students have won at the national level four times since 2004.

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Annette Wetteland
State Library of Iowa




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