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Students: Letters About Literature
5 years ago
| Surprise Me

These letters will touch your heart, some will have tears welling in your eyes...


I will post a few letters with links to the other winners.



Library of Congress


Each year, six National and 12 National Honor letters are chosen from the tens of thousands of entries. National winners can name the library of their choice to receive a $10,000 award from Target



Level I Grades 4-6

National Winner, Level 1: Lara Bagdasarian, CA - Book:  The Circuit


Dear Francisco Jiménez,

I used to think my dad was too hard on me. Whatever I did just wasn’t good enough for him. I had no idea why he was being so critical of me, so I assumed he just didn’t believe in me. After reading your book, The Circuit, I understand my dad better and what he has been trying to tell me.

My dad is an immigrant just like you. He came to the U.S. when he was 14 years old. He spoke broken English, his family had to sleep together in one room, and he had to work to help his family out. He had to earn everything he got.

My dad chastises me about not taking enough initiative to learn another language. He says that when he was a kid he had to learn English on his own. I used to not listen to him, but after I read your book, I started to think about what he said differently. I thought about when you chose to stay in for recess at school everyday to practice English and when, while you were working in the fields, you looked at your notebook and tried to memorize the English words that you didn’t know. It must have taken a lot of initiative to do that all by yourself.

My dad also gets upset at me when I start asking for too much. My dad says that one Christmas he was hoping for a soccer ball. He got a tennis ball instead, so he used to pretend his tennis ball was a soccer ball. Your story, The Christmas Gift, made me feel for the first time what it must be like not to get something that you want so badly that you would do anything for it.

My dad makes me do extra work even after I have done all of my homework. He says working hard is the only way to get far in life. The Circuit describes the importance of hard work much better than my dad described it. When you won a prize for your butterfly drawing, it made you feel like you were bursting out of your cocoon and you were flying away on your wings to become noticed. Before, your classmates had not paid attention to you. My dad told me that when he had just come to the U.S., he won a math prize. Now I understand how he must have felt. I think he is pushing me to work extra hard because he wants me to feel the same way.

Your book made me feel a lot better about my dad. I am now sure that he cares about me and he is just trying to help me become a better person. The Circuit has helped me understand my dad and realize his good intentions. Thank you for sharing your childhood memories with me.

With appreciation,

Lara Bagdasarian


5 years ago

National Winner, Level 1: Reagan Nelson, WA

Book:  Little House on the Prairie


Dear Laura Ingalls Wilder,

Change is something many people are afraid of, but I know it can be wonderful. It is something I have never looked at in the same way since reading your book Little House on the Prairie and meeting Laura. My house burned down when I was seven, and I almost died in the fire. Since that night my dad rescued me from my burning bedroom, things were never the same. People have always described the fire as a great tragedy that hit our family, but I have never viewed it that way. Like Laura on the prairie, this was a time when I was faced with big changes. My family had no home to live in and not even our clothes to wear. But Laura taught me that life’s challenges can be viewed as a great adventure, something to be thankful for even, and this is a view I have chosen to adopt in my own life.

Laura’s life is full of challenges. Laura’s family is faced with the move to land that they work hard to settle on, but later learn they have to vacate after all of their hardship and effort. They are overcome by sickness. They even lose their dog, Jack. Laura never lets these events get the better of her. She feels the sadness and the disappointment but she becomes stronger because of them. Just last year, my Dad and I were hit by a truck while driving in our car to the garden store. Our car was wrecked, but we were not hurt badly. When we had to walk and take the bus everywhere in the snow for four months because we did not have a car, I thought of all the things that happened to the Ingalls family, all of the times they had to move because something was not working. This gave me a tremendous amount of strength and hope. Things always got better for the Ingalls, and through it all they had each other just like I have my Mom and Dad.

What Laura taught me most is that I can either be frightened or mad at life, or I can choose to view change as an opportunity to learn some valuable lessons. One of the most important lessons I learned from Laura and the Ingalls is that the challenges I face have to be greeted with gratitude. After the car accident when we had to walk everywhere, I started to think how thankful I was that I could walk. I realized that the car accident could have taken that away from me. I also realized that everyday, when I walked with my Dad, we spent time together and shared stories that I will always remember. The fire took our house and all of my clothes and toys away, but I still had my family and my pets, which is everything in the world that mattered to me. Just like in Little House, when Mr. Edwards brought Laura and Mary Christmas presents through the snow from far away, people were so kind and gave us all sorts of things. And folks at my school were so generous and caring. I never knew complete strangers could care like that. This was a gift.

It doesn’t really matter whether you like change or not, whether you embrace it or run the other way. It is sometimes wonderful, sometimes disappointing and often frightening, but it is always happening. Little House showed me that life is nothing but transition, and change is inevitable. The Ingalls knew this, and your book showed me I can rely as they did, on family, faith and community to get me through. I have learned that wherever the greatest challenge exists in my life is where the greatest growth is too. Little House on the Prairie taught me that it isn’t the tough times that define us, but rather our response to the challenges we face which makes us who we are. And that is the real gift for which I thank you.


Reagan Nelson

5 years ago


Click HERE for links to all of the other winning letters

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