Fifth-Grader Wins $1,000 as First National Letters About Literature Essay Contest From The District

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Fifth-Grader Wins $1,000 as First National Letters About Literature Essay Contest From The District

Today, Mayor Vincent C. Gray congratulated Alessandra Selassie, a fifth-grader at BASIS DC Charter School, for $1,000 for being the first Letters About Literature Essay Contest winner from the District.

Sponsored nationally by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, and locally by the DC Public Library, Letters About Literature asks young people in grades 4 through 10 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives.  Alessandra wrote to Laura Ingalls Wilder about how her books helped Alessandra understand her father's experience in his native Eritrea.  

“One of the most important things that the District does is give our young people the best education possible, said Mayor Gray.  "Public libraries play an important role in supporting education by helping children discover the joy of reading and helping teachers find programs to enrich the classroom experience.  Today we not only celebrate Alessandra's award; we also celebrate the partnership between our schools, our Library and the Library of Congress."

Alessanda was presented a congratulatory check for $1,000 by Dr. John Cole, director of the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book and Ginnie Cooper, the Chief Librarian for the District of Columbia.

“A great story can help students make sense of their lives,” said Ginnie Cooper.  “When a student like Alessandra connects with and is inspired by a story she reads, it helps that child do well in and beyond school.  We are proud that your Library was able to help show the real power that comes from reading.”  

Alessandra’s essay was one of more than 50,000 from across the country submitted in this year’s Letters About Literature contest.  National, national honor and national runner-up winners were chosen from three competition levels: level 1 (grades 4-6), level 2 (grades 7-8) and level 3 (grades 9-10).