The 2019 Letters About Literature contest was both a joy and a challenge for our judges. Several of our judges judges commented on how many exceptional letters they read this year and how challenging that made the decision. One-hundred and forty-seven letters were named as semi-finalists. From this group the judges selected three top winners, three runners up and thirty-four honorable mentions.  


Naomi Ries, a fourth-grade student at the French American School of Puget Sound on Mercer Island, is the Level 1 (grads 4 to 6) champion. Naomi wrote her letter to Lois Lowry about the book Number the Stars.

Paige Pinion, an eighth-grade student at Catherine Blaine K-8 in Seattle, is the Level 2 (grades 7 and 8) champion. Paige wrote her letter to Avi about the book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

Colton Schons, a tenth-grade student at North Central High School in Spokane is the Level 3 (grades 9-12) champion. Colton wrote his letter to Paul Murray about his book Skippy Dies.

Runners Up and Honorable Mentions

The Level 1 runner up is Kincaid Crowe. Honorable mentions: Abby Bernstein, Barack Abdallah, Darby Wygal, Eleanor Wildflower, Heidi Kestner, Linden Liu, Maggie Burco, Noah Aquino, Quinn Shur, and Taryn Walters.

The Level 2 runner up is Gaia Corvino Honorable mentions: Amanda Ramos, Caitlin Wassell, Clara Sun, Clay Kuran, Eashan Vagish, Eudora Itano Parsons, Gabriel Gandarias, Hank Rohs, Jacob Watson, Kamya Raman, Leonard ter Meulen, and Nancy Bui

The Level 3 runner up is Chantelle Tiya. Honorable mentions: Andrea Liao, Anna Mai, Annabeth Woodard, Caleb Buck, Danielle McCoy, Emma Hastings, Haley Morris, Jessica Hatch, Kaitlyn Billington, Nicole Moreva-Montoya, and Skyler Knight

This contest would not be as strong without the talent and support of our state’s teachers who encouraged their students to write letters. Much to our delight, we also had many students discover the contest and send in letters on their own. The many excellent letters we receive from around the state speak to the power of reading and to the literary strength of Washington state.

Our heartfelt thanks to this year’s judges. We couldn’t have done it without your thoughtful reading.


Level 1 
Kelly Milner Halls, Author, Spokane
Lorena O’English, Librarian, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman
Jan Walsh, former WA State Librarian, Olympia

Level 2 
Cathy Cavness, Retired teacher, Centralia
Peg Cheng, Author, Seattle
Sam Reed, former Washington State Secretary of State, Olympia

Level 3 

James Rosenzweig, Assistant Professor & Education Librarian, Eastern Washington University Libraries, Cheney
Claire Sandoval-Peck, Recent Masters of Librarianship grad & public library aide
Sharma Shields, Author, Spokane

About the contest

Letters About Literature encourages young readers to read a book and write a letter to the author about how the book changed their view of the world or themselves. Students can write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Letter writers compete at three levels: Level 1 is grades 4-6, Level 2 is grades 7-8, and Level 3 is grades 9-12. State judges select the top letter writer in each level and those three letters advance to the national competition. One national winner per level receives a $2,000 cash award and one national honor per level receives a $500 cash award.

The Washington Center for the Book (WCB) is a partnership between The Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library which was formed in 2017. The mission of the WCB is to promote literacy and a love of books, reading, and libraries. In 2018 the WCB took over managing the contest from the Washington State Library (WSL), a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. WSL managed the contest for 12 years prior to the partnership.

The 26th annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations.

To learn more about the Letters About Literature contest at the national level, visit the Letters About Literature national homepage on The Center for the Book’s website.