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Letters About Literature 2017

LAL Ceremony

The Letters About Literature awards ceremony took place on Friday, May 12 in the rotunda of the Round House in Santa Fe. State Librarian, Kathleen Moeller-Peiffer, welcomed everyone and awards were then presented 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.

Raven Callaway-Kidd, a fifth grade student at Turquoise Trail Elementary in Santa Fe, is the Level 1 champion.  Raven wrote her letter to Holly Schindler about her book, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky.

Natashia McDonald, an eighth grade student at Des Moines Municipal Schools in Des Moines, is the Level 2 champion. Her letter is addressed to The Fault in Our Stars author, John Green.

Rebekah Hildebrant, an eleventh grade student at Arrowhead Park Medical Academy in Las Cruces, is the Level 3 champion. Rebekah wrote her letter to Rick Riordan about his books The Lightning Thief and The House of Hades.


Each of the state champions received a certificate acknowledging their achievement and $150 from the State Library. The second place, third place, and 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 early May.

Four hundred and seventy-four New Mexico students entered the 2017 contest.  Of those 474 entries, 83 writers advanced to round two.  In Level 1, there were 128 entries with 21 letters advancing to round two and 16 to round three state judging.  In Level 2, there were 209 entries with 31 letters advancing to round two and 15 of those to round three state judging. In Level 3, there were 137 entries with 31 letters moving on to round two and 21 to round three state judging.  All of the writers who advanced to round two and three were sent a 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; Kathleen Moeller-Peiffer, State Librarian, New Mexico State Library, Department of Cultural Affairs, Santa Fe; Ben Wakashige, Retired State Librarian, Rio Rancho

Level 2 – Kristina Carter, Youth Services Librarian, Clovis-Carver Public Library, Clovis; Corey Bard, Director, Ruidoso Public Library; Elizabeth Martinez, New Mexico Library Commission, Santa Fe

Level 3 – Susan Beck, Professor and Head of Access Services, New Mexico State University Library, Las Cruces; John W. Byram, Director, University of New Mexico Press, 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. 

This is the fifth 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.


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