You are here: Home News Letters About Literature 2018

Letters About Literature 2018

The Letters About Literature awards ceremony took place on Friday, May 4 in the rotunda of the Round House in Santa Fe. Chief of Public Services at the New Mexico State Library, Lori Smith Thornton, welcomed everyone and awards were then presented by Department of Cultural Affairs Deputy Secretary, Michael Delello, to the three New Mexico state champions who read their letters aloud, the three second place winners, the three third place winners, and the honorable mention letter writers.

Kaelyn Siefkes, a fifth grade student at Estancia Valley Classical Academy in Moriarty, is the Level 1 champion.  Kaelyn wrote her letter to Rachel Renee Russel about her series, The Dork Diaries.

Allie Vice, a seventh grade student at Eisenhower Middle School in Albuquerque, is the Level 2 champion. Her letter is addressed to Out of My Mind author, Sharon M. Draper.

Steffen Ortiz, a tenth grade student at East Mountain High School in Sandia, is the Level 3 champion. Steffen wrote his letter to Markus Zusak about his book, The Book Thief.

Each of the state champions received a certificate acknowledging their achievement and $150 from the State Library. The second place letter writers also received a certificate acknowledging their achievement and $75 from the State Library.  The third place writers received a certificate and a $50 gift card for Collected Works Bookstore; and the honorable mention writers also received a certificate and a $25 gift card for Collected Works Bookstore.  The three New Mexico champions' letters were sent to the Library of Congress for the national competition. The winners of the national competition will be announced in mid-May.

Five hundred and nineteen New Mexico students entered the 2018 contest.  Of those 519 entries, 45 writers advanced to round two.  In Level 1, there were 230 entries with 10 letters advancing to round two state judging.  In Level 2, there were 154 entries with 17 letters advancing to round two state judging. In Level 3, there were 135 entries with 18 letters moving on to round two state judging.  All of the state finalist writers who advanced to round two received an award certificate in the mail. 

Our special thanks to the New Mexico judges:

Level 1 - Veronica N. Gonzales, Cabinet Secretary, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Santa Fe; Norice Lee, Associate Library Director, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, Health Sciences Library, Las Cruces; Ben Wakashige, Retired State Librarian, Rio Rancho

Level 2 – Anne Price, Youth Services Manager, Octavia Fellin Public Library, Gallup; Malcolm Alonzo, Library Services Supervisor, The Public Library of Albuquerque and Bernalillo, Alamosa Branch; Deanne Dekle, Youth Services & Outreach Consultant, New Mexico State Library, Santa Fe

Level 3 – Susan Beck, Professor and Head of Access Services, New Mexico State University Library, Las Cruces; Craig L. Newbill, retired Director, New Mexico Humanities Council, Albuquerque; Sarah Stark, Author, Santa Fe

Letters About Literature encourages young readers in grades 4 -12 to read a book and write a personal letter to the author explaining how the book changed or shaped their perspective on themselves or the world. Students could write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Letter writers compete at three levels: Level I is grades 4-6; Level II is grades 7-8; and Level III is grades 9-12. The writers compete in the state contest to win $150 cash prize per competition level and a $1,000 cash award per competition level in the national contest.  One winning letter from each level from each state is entered into the final national competition.

This is the sixth year New Mexico State Library has sponsored the competition.

For more information about New Mexico’s Letters About Literature contest, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Lori Thornton at 505-476-9717.

To read about the Letters About Literature contest at the national level, please click here:

Thank you to all the students, teachers, librarians, and families who participated in New Mexico's Letters About Literature program. Keep reading and writing!

Letters About Literature, the 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.  In New Mexico, the contest is sponsored by the New Mexico State Library, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Tips for Library Users

Ask A Librarian

Got a burning question about Zozobra? Wondering what in the world is a wikiup? Curious about Chaco Canyon? Ask a librarian! The New Mexico State Library E-mail Reference Desk responds to questions within 2 business days or less. Post your puzzles using our online form.