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2018 LETTERS ABOUT LITERATURE STATE CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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Letters About Literature State Contest Winners Announced

BATON ROUGE—The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana is excited to announce the 2018 Louisiana winners of the annual Letters About Literature contest. This year, 562 fourth through twelfth grade Louisiana students wrote personal letters to authors, living or dead, to thank them and to explain how their work changed the students’ way of thinking about the world or themselves. The winners of the competition hail from Ruston to Breaux Bridge to New Orleans and were inspired by everything from fiction to nonfiction, classic to contemporary, fantasy to historical, work in translation to books in a series.  Please find a full list of winners below.

Students receive $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place, and they will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival on Sat., November 10th, in Baton Rouge, with the first place winners reading their letters there. Louisiana’s first place winners’ entries have been submitted to the Library of Congress for the national competition. To read the winners’ letters and see the names of all the state finalists and their teachers and schools, visit www.state.lib.la.us.

Level I (grades 4 – 6)

1st Place:                             Kadra J. Bates, Copper Mill Elementary, Zachary

2nd Place:                           Evelyn Deroche, Copper Mill Elementary, Zachary

3rd Place:                            Alexis Williams, Copper Mill Elementary, Zachary

Honorable Mention:         Joey Roth, Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge

Level II (grades 7 – 8)

1st Place:                             Jenee Brown, Northwestern Middle School, Zachary

2nd Place:                           Eleanor Guichet, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

3rd Place:                            Acadia McCoy, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

Honorable Mention:         Rocco Salamone, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

Level III (grades 9 – 12)

1st Place:                             Khoa Pham, St. Thomas More Catholic High School, Lafayette

2nd Place:                           Isabella Mariano, Cedar Creek School, Ruston

3rd Place:                            Sarah Katherine McCallum, Cedar Creek School, Ruston         

Letters About Literature is made possible by a grant from the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes and administers the contest through its affiliate state centers for the book, state libraries, and other organizations.

In Louisiana, the contest is made possible by the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana with additional assistance from the Louisiana Writing Project and the Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation. Funding for prizes is provided by the Library of Congress grant.

www.LouisianaTravel.com


Winning Letters

List of Finalists


Letters About Literature

2018 Winning Letters

Levels 1-3

First Place Winner Level I, grades 4-6

Kadra J. Bates, Copper Mill Elementary, Zachary

Dear Chris Colfer,

It would take me years for me to explain how good of a writer you are, but it would take even longer to explain how much this book means to me. Your book, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell has really impacted me in a positive way. The book changed my mindset of things. It has taught me the importance of determination, and why you always have to believe in yourself.

The two main characters Alex and Conner, who are twins, have to go through many crazy adventures, to get what they want. One of these adventures  would be trying to get the ingredients for the wishing spell. A lot of obstacles get in their way, but they get through them with determination. They gather enough courage to fight these obstacles, and that is a huge source of determination.

Alex and Conner using determination showed me that I will always be faced with obstacles, but it is important that I fight them with determination. An example of this would be when I was in a summer camp. I became a part of the leadership team, but some people thought I wasn't capable because I was the youngest on the team. I proved them all wrong by being a wonderful leader. No matter how hard it may be, I should always have courage.

These two characters also taught me to believe in myself. I should always believe that I can do anything, and I can tackle any obstacle. This has taught me the importance of believing in myself, even if others do not. Alex and Conner had to believe in their selves because many people doubted their abilities. But with believing in their selves they prove everybody wrong.

This book has also changed my mindset of things. Many times, in the book Alex and Conner meet characters, but these characters have no idea that these two people are going through a crazy situation. This has taught me personally, to never be judgmental of things that I see. I should always be mindful that I never know what that person might be going through. I put myself into the perspective of that person, and I wonder how I would feel if someone was being critical or judgmental of me.

From this book I have learned that it doesn't take much for a person's life to be changed. It takes the experience of someone else for a person to reflect on their own. Although I haven't been on a crazy adventure like Alex and Conner, I am very prepared for if I have to pack my bags. I would bring determination because I refuse to give up. I would also bring my courage, so that I will always believe in myself.

Thank you so much for writing this book. I'm sure that it has impacted the lives of many people.

I am really proud to call The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, my favorite book. It has been an awesome book to read, but most importantly it has given me life tips that I will never forget. I hope you keep on writing books because the Land of Stories series is the not regular. It is life changing.

Sincerely,

Kadra J. Bates


Second Place Winner Level I, grades 4-6

Evelyn Deroche, Copper Mill Elementary, Zachary

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I never expected help for my broken heart to come out of such a place, ln fact, I often found myself wondering why did this happen to me. But help did come, and I’m grateful. Before reading Harry

Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone I thought that nobody knew all the pain that my seven-year-old heart felt. Bullies and loss surrounded me. I felt that I was on my own little island of pain. Then I read Harry

Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and something changed. Someone felt how I felt.

When I was younger four of my siblings died young. I have to say that it's hard on a seven-year old to experience that much loss, During my first-grade year I was bullied by I girl I had previously believed to be my friend. It hurt and I went home crying almost every day because she would call me dumb and tell me I wasn't as good as her. The summer before my second-grade year I read the first two Harry Potter books. I also found out that the girl was going t\ be in my second-grade class. I read a chapter in Harry Potter on one of the first days of school. Shortly after that, the girl came up to me and started to tell me I wasn't as good as her. Instead of letting her bully me, I walked away and didn't let her hurt me that year.

Reading Harry Potter, I was so inspired that even though Harry had experienced the loss of family members instead of letting that hurt him he let it give him strength and courage. During the bully encounter I thought oh no here we go again. But then I remembered Harry let his pain make him stronger. So instead of standing there and let her hurt me I said “Okay, I don't really care what you think. What matters is what I think." lf I hadn't read the Harry Potter series I may not have had the courage to stand up for myself even today.

The scared and lonely version of me that was heartbroken has turned into a strong and independent child that is here today. Reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone I never thought it would impact me that much. That just goes to show that the strongest help comes from the most unlikely places. Having said that I now understand that God's plan for our lives is complicated and he has a purpose for everything. It just took your book to show that to me,

Sincerely,

Evelyn Deroche


Third Place Winner Level I, grades 4-6

Alexis Williams, Copper Mill Elementary, Zachary

Dear Jay Asher,

Your novel Thirteen Reasons Why is a very mysterious and real novel. It lets you know how much you can do to a person with just one single word and they can care so much. You tell this story with such honesty that makes the story seem so real.

This novel can make someone feel like they're in Hannah's shoes. And it has inspired many people who have read the book to be a nicer person. Because you can feel Hanna's anger and frustration throughout the story. And what makes this even better is there is a show based on the novel and it makes the novel even better because it gives us a visual representation of how the book is.

Minor characters in this book can become major characters so face because Hannah goes to explain what every character she met in the book caused her to commit suicide. And it can make you look at all the characters differently even the ones who barely say anything to her will make you wonder, “Did they do something to Hannah?"

And the people that hurt Hannah were most of her friends or people she liked and that made her feel bad about herself and her parents didn't really pay close attention to it. Clay saw most of the things that happened to her and he didn't try to stop it. He just watched her get hurt and if would've gone up to Hannah and tell her she wasn't alone this might not have happened to her.

And Clay wouldn't feel so bad and he wouldn't be so made at his self. So, Hannah might have felt like she was alone and she wanted a better life.

Your novel made me realize more than actions can hurt people words and the way you look at people can make someone feel threatened and make them not want to go to school, not want to leave their house or worse make them not want to live anymore. So, we should watch what we say and keep how we feel about other people to ourselves because we can really hurt someone or make them feel bad.

A story that I would like to share is one of my friends who is a male act much differently than the rest of the boys at my school was getting bullied and me and my other friends didn't like it at all. So, one day we were all in a group and my friend was with me and we were playing on our laptops (because our teacher gave us free time) and we came across this document that one of the bullies made and sent to the whole the class. The document was titled "Things I Don't Like" and there were things like food, games, and school on there. Then in the middle was my friend’s name and he was very sad and I don't like when he is sad because he is always a happy.

I immediately said "We have to tell a teacher about this!!" and my friend, some other friends, and I went up to my teacher and she found out who made the document and he got in trouble. In conclusion, your book is a very inspiring, tearful, and very realistic book. That has helped many kids know how dangerous words can be towards others and it can lead to really bad things.This book has helped me and I'm sure it has helped many other people so thank you.

Sincerely,

Alexis W.


Honorable Mention Level I, grades 4-6

Joey Roth, Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge

Dear Mr. Zusak,

As a Jewish person, reading The Book Thief impacted not just how I think of World War II, but how I think of myself---how I act towards other people, how I act towards my family, even how I act towards myself. Some of my actions have a positive effect on me, while others do not.

Seventy years before I was born, my grandfather, Hans Sternberg, escaped Nazi Germany when he was 18 months old with his family. Eighty years later, he returned to Germany for the first time, bringing me and my family along with him on the journey. While we were in his birthplace, Aurich, Germany, his actions towards the country that tried to kill him and his family shaped me to see the world differently. I felt that same feeling when I read your book.

Liesel and my grandfather share multiple strengths. When Liesel scrapes her knee to help protect Max from the Nazis, she is showing her willingness to do what she thinks is right. My grandpa will go to great lengths to do what he thinks is right. He has always taught me the importance of being ethical.

Another strength they share is their selflessness. Liesel hurts herself while trying to save Max's diary. My grandfather is the most selfless person I know. He has helped many employees with their education, he is a significant supporter of his university, and he is a lifetime active supporter of Israel.

After reading Liesel's story, my actions have changed. The changes are not in how I do simple things, like how I dress or what I eat. The changes are in how I look at the world. Now, I look at the world through eyes of selflessness, courage, and devotion to those I care about.

Thank you for sharing Liesel's story with the rest of the world. Given my trip to Germany, I can especially connect to Liesel, in a personal way.

Sincerely,

Joey Roth


First Place Winner Level II, grades 7-8

Jenee Brown, Northwestern Middle School, Zachary

Dear Angie Thomas,

Your book, The Hate U Give, has been my favorite read of all time. It changed my perceptions of the world, how to conduct myself, and where I've come from. The Hate U Give has been the most realistic young adult novel I have read yet, one that everyone should read. No matter what color they happen to be.

The Hate U Give altered my perception of the world. I came to the realization that racism

is still very much a thing. It's been modernized, put into forms that can easily affect us now. Where I live, I'd say I'm rather protected from the effects. I hear the news of it just outside my city, but not in it. Police brutality, prejudice, and stereotyping came into my head and I realized that I'm closer to these issues than I thought. July 5th, 2016, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a police officer for resisting arrest and attempting to grab a firearm during arrest only about 45 minutes from my home. I was at home texting several friends about dreading school. I ignored the entire theme of the Black Lives Matter movement and decided to focus on relationships with friends instead. I was becoming the person that looked away from protesters, turned the channel when police brutality headlines lit up my TV, or simply ignored the modern rights movement playing out. I had a chance to make my voice heard at a time better than any other. I missed that chance but I refuse to miss another. Your book opened my eyes to what I could be doing to help instead of turning a blind eye. It taught me that I've stayed silent too long. My voice is powerful no matter my age. I'm going to use it.

I am an African American teenager. I've grown up in the suburbs. A constant shift of fitting in. Too white for the black girls, too black for the white girls. I didn't know where I fit. I couldn't do all the viral dances with the black girls, and I didn't have straight hair to braid and twist with the white girls. I was in-between. I squeezed myself into a place with the white girls and became that person from a young age. They had sleepovers, they did hair, they would hang out together outside of school and I was the one who couldn't do that. But talking during class and being regular friends was something I could do. I developed a school personality and a home personality. Being split in two continued all the way up until 6s grade when I realized I didn't be so close with the white girls anymore. I wanted friends like me, who understood the struggle of not being able to have a sleepover without it being a holiday and having a month's notice. The struggle of getting your scalp pulled off from the wide-tooth comb running through your 4C-4B hair, talking carefully so your words wouldn't be taken as an attitude. So, I began my shift. Slowly. It came to where I was three people. The me that talked with the black girls, the me that was still sort of friends with the white girls, and the me I was at home. In the summer of 8th grade, I read your book, The Hate U Give. It came to me that plenty of other girls were going through a problem like mine. Being three different people. When Stan decided to bring her personalities together, I realized that that's what was right to do. I changed for the better in most ways. I liked how I felt and I enjoyed not having to change my voice, how I carried myself, what jokes I made, myself in general depending on who I was talking to. I was free to be myself all around.

The Hate U Give also sparked me to feel empowered. Up until then, I didn't embrace the beauty of being a black girl. I always tried to smother my roots, push them back. I never realized that my "melanin was poppin" as so many t-shirts say. I straightened my hair constantly simply because I looked farther from my race. I didn't realize that being African American is something to be proud of, and being an African American female was something to simply rejoice about. I really should've brought it to the forefront of my existence. My female family members were all strong role models. Lawyers, volunteer OBGYN's in Ghana, veterans, business owners, and even stay-at-home moms who were strongly inspiring. I had so many successful examples right at my finger tips and yet I couldn't realize what was in myself.

The Hate U Give has given me a new outlook to life. Allowing me to see more than I had ever seen before. It encouraged me to become more present in social movements, to become myself, and to then embrace myself and my roots. I still have loads of changes to go through, but it’ll come as I go throughout life. Right now, I'm grateful for the changes brought by your book.

I hope to give passion,

Jenee Brown


Second Place Winner Level II, grades 7-8

Eleanor Guichet, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

Dear Markus Zusak:

Before I turned a year old, my mother officially converted to Judaism. Therefore, I was not born a Jew, though I was raised as one. I went to religious school every Sunday the second I turned four, and I went to services on Fridays even before that. However, I never felt that I was technically a Jew until I turned thirteen and celebrated my bat mitzvah. I always felt as if I was faking, and I did not deserve to be the same religion as those who had suffered and fought for what they believed in. I was ashamed, so I decided to learn about one of the biggest Jewish conflicts in history: the Holocaust. I first read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was in about third grade, desperate for some understanding of what Jews really went through. However, it was not enough for me. I needed to see it from all angles and sides. Every single perspective. My mother then introduced me to The Book Thief. She sat with me in my room at bedtime and started to read aloud, but it was too much for me. I couldn't understand why a German, someone from the culture I thought I was supposed to hate, would feel the same way I did towards Adolf Hitler. Didn't they all love him? So, after a few nights of reading, I asked her to stop, and it proceeded to sit on my bookshelf for the following three years.

Then, I entered middle school. By this point, I was preparing for my bat mitzvah and had a lot on my shoulders. It also just so happened that that year, we were learning about the Holocaust in English since the school was having us read The Diary of Anne Frank. So, I chose to return to The Book Thief instead, seeing as I had already read the diary. Somehow, I managed to finish it within two days. It greatly changed my perspective on everything that I thought I knew. I had always thought that the story behind the Holocaust was black and white, but really, it was and is all sorts of grays. For instance, many Germans did idolize Hitler the way I thought they did. They believed everything he did was right and wore the swastika proudly. Then, there were those who did not, but disagreed in silence.

They did not try to stop anything and simply followed. However, there were also people like Liesel, who hated everything he and his followers stood for. They did not voice their opinions loudly, but rather in whispers for fear of punishment. Some people even hid Jews like Max to keep them safe and did their best to make better changes, whether they be subtle or not so. It made me realize how complex people are and from how many different perspectives these stories can be told. It brought a whole new light to the saying "don't judge a book by its cover."

While The Book Thief helped me realize more about World War II and similar events, it also helped me get through tough times in my own life. Growing up is difficult, especially when the world you live in is changing so rapidly, you can't keep track. As I was reading The Book Thief I found myself relating so much to Liesel in many different ways. For instance, she was growing up, just like me. She was changing in many of the ways I was, and it made me feel less alone, and it even prepared me a little. Also, though the society I am growing up in is not as dangerous or unaccepting, I still find myself being terrified by what is happening in the country I call home; but remembering the way Liesel handled it all picks me up every time, and convinces me to stay strong. She lost everything, and yet she still lived a long and happy life.

I could also relate to Rudy at some points. For instance, his need to win. It was as though he constantly felt the need to prove himself, and I can understand that. Being surrounded by many smart, athletic, and talented people, it is easy for me to feel lesser than them. I always want to be better: not always for myself, but also to show others. There's also his confusion with the anti-Semitism and racism happening at the time. He couldn't understand why wanting to be like Jesse Owens was so bad, and even his father couldn't explain it completely. It's the same way nowadays. I don't understand those who are racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, etcetera. They never have a real reason for hating those who do not affect them. There has never been a clear, logical explanation for it all, and it's confusing.Finally, his helpless crush on Liesel was something I could understand completely seeing as I was—and still am—growing up.

Even Death spoke to me at some points. He said the questions that I had always wondered and even answered a few that I had asked, even if I hadn't realized l had asked them. It's hard to explain, but that's as simply as I can put it. Sometimes, he made me notice the world more, like the colors of the sky, or how strange and haunting we as people are. I saw things from a new perspective, which was something I talked a lot about in my bat mitzvah speech. It also helped me as a writer create new stories and characters.

In fact, The Book Thief helped my writing a lot in general. I hope to be an author one day, and after I read your novel, l realized that I had subconsciously started writing in a way that combined my old way of writing and a style that was similar to yours. I found that I was seeing messages in between lines and knitting words together in a way that made my short stories sound like poetry which was just how I felt while reading your book: like I was reading a new kind of poetry instead of a novel. I have read and reread this story countless times, always marking more and more pages, always finding new passages that relate to me as I keep aging and growing; but no matter how old I get, I feel as though I will always come back to The Book Thief, in both good times and bad. So thank you for writing something that is so beautifully haunting, I will never be able to let it go.

Sincerely

Eleanor Guichet


Third Place Winner Level II, grades 7-8

Acadia McCoy, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

Dear Orson Scott Card,

I set my book on the side table, tired after having read the whole thing in one night. I felt so helpless, knowing I was only a miniscule part of an ever-expanding universe. I should have been joyous, seeing as it was Christmas Eve, yet I was not. I stared into the ceiling of our hotel room, wondering how much damage a child could sustain before he finally, painfully broke. There was a child I once knew, and his memory was inspiring these thoughts. I had seen, firsthand, the abuse he had been through. Cruel mind games with no solution, no end. He had other children pitted against him at every turn, around every comer of the “games" they played. They were games of war. And yet, he overcame. This boy, of course, is Ender Wiggins. You created him in your novel Ender’s Game, so of course, you know his pain. Reading your book, I am flooded by so many emotions, chief among them a strange and overwhelming sense of guilt. I look on as Ender is beaten by a group of boys, and I look on as he kills the leader. I look on as he becomes merely a shell, so used by others that his will to live is worn thin. I look on. I know that this universe you write is fake, but to me, it seems so much more than real. It is an anthem, singing loudly with a tale of innocence, and of what once was. That song has been playing over and over again in my mind. It has no words, no lyrics, yet there is still a meaning that I have yet to find.

When I was younger, I used to have terrible nightmares. They didn't seem to have specific trigger, yet they would plague me with gore and darkness night after night. I would wake up in a cold sweat, sometimes still frozen with either fear or sleep paralysis. After I was able to move again, I usually called out to my mother, someone who, in my eyes, was untouchable by the darkness of the world. The thing she told me, night after night, was that it wasn't real. That I wasn't alone, for she would always be by my side. As I look back to these things, I know that the same was not true for Ender. For him, the nightmares were real, and he had to live through them every day. For Ender, there was no one standing by to comfort him. He was alone. And that is what finally brought me to the realization that I was so lucky to be where I am; lucky that I was not in that universe, and above all, lucky not to be alone. To be quite frank with you, being alone is my greatest fear. That is why I admire Ender as much as I do, because although it pains him, he accepts being alone. I noticed a small detail in your book that had control of my thoughts for days on end. While Peter and Valentine are playing at politics, they both write under male personas, which to me say something about the state of the world that they live in. The implications point to continued sexism in the government, something I thought would have been eradicated in the near future. Peter said that he had created both characters extremely precisely, so that they would be the best candidates to rule the Hedgemon and other world government systems. I'm wondering if this detail has any importance. Is it your small way of making readers notice how the tyranny of the male ruled world? Or could it be your own controversial beliefs unintentionally creeping into your writing? Perhaps I am looking too far into a small detail. I doubt I'll ever know.

When I was reading through the ending of your book, my first thought was that I wanted Ender to return to Earth. I wanted to see him at the cabin on the lake, floating through the water on his raft Valentine beside him. I thought that would make him happy. But the more I thought about that, the more wrong it seemed. I can't really explain it to you, but once I pictured the whole scene, it seemed to warp before me. I knew Ender wouldn't be happy, not even with Valentine. I doubted he loved anyone anymore, even her. He was truly alone, quite possibly even more so than I had first thought. He would just sit, reliving his trials, the war, and his friends he would never see again.

Ender's Game has greatly affected the way that I think about my relationships with people in this world. I have gotten rid of some of my toxic friendships with people who have just been using me for their own benefit, and I have reached out to others, not for their emotional strength or popularity, but because I see in them great potential to do things I couldn't even imagine in my dizziest daydreams. Your message about loneliness has caused me to think about my romantic future, for, truth be told, finding love is my greatest aspiration. The solitude of Ender Wiggin made my mind shudder, and left me wondering, once again, how a child could endure such suffering. Without the connections you made between Ender and the Buggers, I would have never thought that people I didn't know so well could be so similar to myself. Without Ender, I would have been alone.

Regards,

Acadia


Honorable Mention Level II, grades 7-8

Rocco Salamone, Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

Dear Daniel Defoe:

Growing up, I always loved playing in my backyard. I would hang up tarps, make campfires, and attempt to build treehouses. I lived a regular child's life inside, but once I stepped out of my back porch screen, I entered a world of adventure. In the winter months when it was cold, I saw myself as a fur trapper in the 1800's. In the summer when it rained, I envisioned myself as an American GI in Vietnam, sitting in a foxhole. When I dug a 4 foot deep hole in my mother's tomato garden, I saw myself as a coal miner in the jungle. I always read about how Robinson Crusoe built shelters, so I built one.

As I slept, I dreamt about being stranded on a desert island myself. I had to catch my own food. I swam in coral reefs, picking off lobster with ease. I tasted the sweet meat in my deep sleep. I fought pirates on sandy beaches just like Robinson. I built boats and sailed the waters around my island. I dreamt about building a house and a fort. This situation that most people feared was my happy place.

All my fantasies stemmed from my love of the outdoors, survival, and camping. Your book was what created my fascination for these things. Robinson Crusoe kept me from staying inside and playing an box or watching TV. In addition to keeping me outside a lot, the book turned me onto other adventure books. Even today, at 14 years old, I still play in my backyard. I bond with my best friend because of your book. We walk miles to the Mississippi River and hang out in the forest. I go to summer camp where we hike and only sleep in tents. I don't see my love for the outdoors ending soon. My skills could maybe even lead to opportunities with jobs.

Robinson Crusoe spent about twenty-eight years on the island. He never gave up, and finally he was able to build a boat and escape. The theme of the book is that if there is a will, there's a way. Though it's cliché, it really did relate to my life. I went to a Catholic school for five years. I didn't like the school at all. For years, I worked to get into my current school, Lusher. I tested for it for years but never got accepted. I worked hard at my school; I wanted to go to Lusher so bad. In 5th grade, I tested for Lusher. Finally, I got in—I got off my desert island.

Robinson's struggles became my comforts. To this day I still daydream about following the ways of Crusoe. I can easily say that "Robinson Crusoe" is my favorite book. It built friendships, dreams, and hobbies for me. I will always cherish the novel and hopefully I will read it to my kids one day.

Sincerely,

Rocco Salamone


First Place Winner Level III, grades 9-12

Khoa Pham, St. Thomas More Catholic High School, Lafayette

Dear Mr. Haruki Murakami,

I know that I'm not the first reader nor the last to send you a thank-you letter for the novel Norwegian Wood However, being a stunning story, your work helped me through two periods of terrible mental breakdown and shaped who I have become today, and for sure, my future. So, if you don't mind taking another thank you, thank you for writing Norwegian Wood.

I have never been a big reader, not even now, I would say. Back in my childhood, my feet were continuously ablaze from playing outside on the grass and dirt. After those ball games, I dreamt crazy dreams while lying next to friends on the chilling ceramic. Smiles stayed on my face, unending. Writing these memories out right now, I wonder how I could be so care free, how I could be that innocent, how I could be so happy? The spring lasted for twelve years until winter took its place. ln the second year of middle school, I broke down after the end of a relationship. I can't recall the reasons for the breakup. The memories have drifted so far away that I can only stand still and look at them as if they are drifting away. Moreover, it takes my breath away whenever I try to revive the fading memory, which I once wanted to be deleted forever. I stopped while the world kept moving. It was a horrible time.

The pain eased eventually, yet the bitterness lingered for years. After the breakdown, I started doing: studying, making, reading, practicing piano non-stop even to the extent of seventy-two hours—without slowing down or sleeping. I was a madman. I felt desperation and turned hungry for something that I today am still unable to describe, and during that period I took out Norwegian Wood from my mother's library. The image when I first opened the novel still lingers at the back of my mind: me in the spinning chair at the start of a new day while candle scent filled the room. The novel felt so far away when I started. "It is titled Norwegian Wood while I’m here, sitting alone in my room, in some city in South East Asia billions of steps away," I thought. Yet without knowing that my life was turning in another direction, I kept reading while rain danced over the windows. I finished the book in the next twelve hours, and then reread it again, and again, and again. Without a sense of time, the book was opened then closed until pages began to rip apart. The story told through the eye of Toru amazed me. The world in Japan, an extraordinary distant place, felt so familiar, even though I hadn't set foot on Japanese soil (yet). The feelings that tangle inside when you lose an important person in your life. The hollow in the chest when you, alone, drive the bus or isolate yourself in your room. The dark thoughts that play with your mind every moment. I was feeling all of that. All of those feelings which I had experienced at every second in the past few months were played out in the characters of your story. Just like Kizuki, I made people laugh and feel relaxed, yet depression haunted me. Just like Naoko, I had trouble expressing myself and was unable to recover from breakdowns fast enough for the circle of men. I was Reiko, Toru, Midori and even the "Storm Trooper" at some point. I noticed myself in your characters and found an option, an option not to meet the same fate as some of them met in the story.

I reflected upon myself through your story, but it wasn't the only concept Norwegian Wood showed me. It fused my love for my family, arts, humble things that we take for granted every day, and the human race itself, no matter how destructive or hateful it is. It shaped my worldview. It taught me that "Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life" and helped me ease my fear. I have never been a big reader, but I can't recall how many times I have dived inside the thoughts of Toru and just stayed there. For the next year and seasons to pass, next to my pillow sat Norwegian Wood.

However, life sneaked up on me again after two years. One day during spring, my dad asked: "Do you want to study abroad?" and either with joy or sadness, I answered, "Yes." A plane took me to America, the concrete land, while my family stayed home. Once again, depression won. For the entire year one in high school, I shut down, and once again worked like crazy in the second year. It was a harsh time. But with the habit of reflecting upon myself whenever Norwegian Wood crosses my mind, l was eventually able to overcome the breakdown as the year came to an end.

I’m writing this to you while on my way back to see my family. However, it has been just months since I overcame the second breakdown (and I'm still recovering from it). Just a few moments ago, the captain announced that we are inside Vietnam's province, my hometown. All of the memories start to pour in, and I smiled when Norwegian Wood crosses my mind. I’m becoming Toru, just without John Lennon singing in the background. Now my eyes, dried and tired, start to blur, for I have spotted the light down there.

Thanks again for the book.

Your reader,

Khoa Pham

EVA Air 8R049, Economy Section #3, 8000 meters above


Second Place Winner Level III, grades 9-12

Isabella Mariano, Cedar Creek School, Ruston

Dear Katherine Patterson,

Your novel, Bridge to Terabithia, has impacted my life ever since I was a young girl, and it taught me a very important life lesson: the importance of childhood. I first read your book around the age of eleven, and I was finally considered “upper" elementary. I remember it as if it was yesterday, the book was sitting on a tall shelf with a high AR score that was out of my range. At the time, the book was supposed to be beyond my caliber and understanding; therefore, my librarian said no. Little did she know how much understanding I took from the novel at such a young age, and how much it helped me bloom into the person I am today. Filled with rejection, I went to the public library and checked out the book, and I brought it every day to school. Growing up, I didn't have a lot of friends at school. The majority were at dance or they went to a different school. At the age of eleven, I knew there was something different about me than my fellow peers. My skin color was different. I was ashamed, and I tried multiple way to get rid of it. I tried never going out into the sun so that my skin wouldn't get any darker, I tried scrubbing my body until it was raw and red, in hope that the “colored" part would go away. I remember praying, crying, and screaming at the world that this wasn't fair because at recess, no one wanted to play with the small Asian kid. Therefore, the majority of the time, I was alone. But, the thing was, I didn't want to play with them. I isolated myself from them, just waiting and wanting to grow up and move to somewhere extravagant like New York or Los Angeles. I was in such a rush to grow up, that I didn't realize the life experiences that I was going to miss: my childhood. Reading was my comfort, so I sat in the shaded corner and opened my book. In that same shaded comer, I opened your book and learned a very important life lesson that has stuck with me today.

As a young child, my mind was always up in the clouds, soaring though my imagination. Reading brought my imagination to my own Terabithia, my own happiness. For Jess and Leslie, their Terabithia, their safe haven, was my shaded corner out my the mossy tree where the pinecones used to land on my head while I was sat on that worn down squeaky bench. This place brought me happiness, peace, and comfort. Just like Leslie and Jess, that little shaded corner was my getaway from reality, from the discrimination, the loneliness. This novel taught me that having an unreasonable imagination is acceptable and not confiding within the stereotypical norms of society is okay. However, Jess and Leslie taught me that friendships are an essential part in one's wellbeing. While reading brought me comfort internally, there was no one there for me to hung or comfort me when I was down. Bridge to Terabithia inspired me move past my comfort zones and create friendships of my own. When Leslie died, I cried for hours thinking about how someone so innocent, so pure could deserve something so unfair. In that very same moment, I had a revelation, life isn't fair, and nobody was going to hand your happiness to you.

You have to reach for it yourself. It's not something that a certain person or group can give to you, it all depends on you. I learned that being solely focused on the future wasn't going to change what was happening now. This book taught me the importance of childhood, the memories I was missing out off, and my friends I've pushed off to the side. Those were the years and the memories that I was never going to be able to get back if I continued my isolation. However, I'm thankful that I realized this very important life lesson back during my elementary years because if I found this out in latter years, regret would have been my biggest enemy. That shaded corner by that mossy tree where the pinecones used to land on my head while I sat on that worn down squeaky bench, will always be cherished and will always be a source of comfort, but I've adapted to seek comfort with my friends and family which has lead me to my Terabithia, my true happiness.

Sincerely,

Isabella Mariano


Third Place Winner Level III, grades 9-12

Sarah Katherine McCallum, Cedar Creek School, Ruston         

Dear Mr. Gladwell,

You saved my math grade.

I would have never read Outliers had it not been because of a certain friend's recommendation. If I'm being honest, when I first picked up Outliers I expected to be lulled to sleep by dryly presented statistics. I mean a book about how and why people are successful? Yawn. However, this friend's insistence that I read it persuaded me to give the book a chance. Now, my friends roll their eyes every time I say "Well, in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell..." during a class discussion or a casual conversation with friends. Perhaps you've made me the most annoying kid in my grade, but I don't care. Your book has changed my outlook on life and math for the better.

Ever since elementary school, math has quite literally been the bane of my existence. From an early age I have believed that I am not capable of doing math. I had convinced myself that because math did not immediately "click" with me that I was incapable of doing it. This dark cloud of selÊdoubt followed me all the way to Junior High and into High School. Of course, the older I got the better I got at math; however, that dark cloud continued to follow me into my Algebra I teacher's classroom, then my Geometry and Algebra II teachers’ classrooms, and now my advanced math teacher's room. That is until I finally psyched myself up to crack open your book. The anecdote that sticks out with me is the one where a woman is given a math problem and spends more than just a few minutes to solve it. The sentences of that anecdote changed my life. It finally dawned on me that my ability to do math was not dependent on my natural aptitude. Rather, it depended on my willingness to try. Maybe even more than that it depended on my willingness to devote the time required for me to grasp a new mathematical concept.

Now, Advanced Math is one of my easiest courses this year, and my ACT math score has improved by 7 points. You made me realize that grit and time are what truly pioneer success, not natural ability.

Beyond the realm of mathematics, you have improved my life as an entertainer. I have started applying the 10,000 hours rule to my life as a singer. I am obsessed with gaining 10,000 hours of on-stage experience in order to improve my quality as a performer. I have started taking advantage of every opportunity I have to perform and I can already tell a difference. In fact, I have started keeping a log of anytime I perform in front of an audience (and let me tell you I am well on my way to 10,000 hours).

While you may never see my name in the lights of Madison Square Garden, my work ethic has improved and for that accomplishment I thank you. I may never spend 10,000 hours working math problems, but I have drastically increased the amount of time I spend doing homework in any class or skill where I struggle. Maybe one day you will reference me as an outlier who proves success is proceeded by a sacrifice of time (10,000 hours to be exact), an application of effort, and taking advantage of every opportunity one has to better themselves.

Sincerely,

Sarah Katherine McCallum

P.S. I now have to fight the urge to tell the co-pilot and pilot of any plane I board to make

sure they communicate with one another during my flight...


LAL 2018 Finalists

LEVEL 1

Cathedral Carmel School, Lafayette

Teacher: Rebecca Dubois

Ava Bourque

Morgan Crozier

Megan Pepiton

Cathedral Carmel School, Lafayette

Teacher: Courtney Greer

Angelo  Kortsimas

CamilleSchaeffer

Copper Mill Elementary, Zachary

Teacher: Laurie Condon

Nyllah Allen

Emma Carls

Micah Daniel Gaines

Teacher: Margret Atkinson

Kadra Bates (1st place winner)

Blaire Adelle Bentley

Emma Carls

Emma Todd

Alexis Williams (3rd place winner)

Teacher: Laura Grubb

John Bradey

Evelyn G. Deroche (2nd place winner)

WilliamO'Brien

Episcopal School of Acadiana, Lafayette

Teacher: Emily Brupacher

Ella Arceneaux

Jonathan Bush

Roan Menard

Maisy Prellop

Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge

Teacher: Martha Guarisco

Elliot Breidenbach

Alex Buriege

Laura Jane Kirkpatrick

Ryann Richard

Joey Roth (honorable mention)

Baylen Sims

First Baptist Christian School, Slidell

Teacher: Erin Webb

Skylar Vetter


LEVEL 2

First Baptist Christian School, Slidell

Teacher: Cordia Ziegler

Jae'Da  Burke

ReaganMcVay

Lusher Charter School, New Orleans

Teacher: Rebekah Bradshaw

Tamia Dillard

Kyla Ellzey

Malaya Mitchell

Mae Orlosky

Angelo Vicini

Teacher: Erica Cross

Jared Ciay

Ava Derby

Siddiqa Faruki

Henry Fitzgerald

Oliver Fouquet

Grace Gorman

Eleanor Guichet (2nd place winner)

Daniel Hall

Aida Hughes

Fabienne Hughes

CamilleIngram

Berelian Karimian

Caroline Ladner

Maggie Livaccari

Acadia McCoy (3rd place winner)

Georgia Parsons

Emma Rioux

Carter Roberts

Rocco Salomone (honorable mention)

Northwestern Middle School, Zachary

Teacher: Margret Atkinson

Mariah  Alexander

Jenee Brown (1st place winner)

Alexia Bentley

Jessica Bernardi

Lauren Bradley

Georgia Charlet

Morgan Hayes

Cora O'Keefe

AudreyPoche

Macie Turner

St. Aloysius Catholic School, Baton Rouge

Teacher: Stephanie Coxe

Chloe Khuri


LEVEL 3

Cedar Creek School, Ruston

Teacher: Leeanne Bordelon

Jackson Harris

Micaela Jolly

Isabella Mariano (2nd place winner)

Sarah McCallum (3rd place winner)

Jayden Nguyen

Donovan Turpin

Hahnville, Boutte

Teacher: Deborah S. Unger

Luke Elliott

Mount Carmel Academy, New Orleans

Teacher: Jaime  Carroll

ClaudiaGarcia

St. Louis Catholic, Lake Charles

Teacher: Holley Fontenot

Cara Hanks

Saint Paul's School, Covington

Teacher: Ray Bulliard

Christian Allison

ClaytonBannon

WesleyColes

Ryan Daly

Joshua Diaz

Panashe Kazingizi

Christian Kramer

Garrett Louterbach

Ethan Plauche

Max Salvant

Michael  Slimming

Brady Talley

Individual

Brianna Corley, Olla

Randi Markham, Sarepta

Khoa Pham, Breaux Bridge (1st place winner)

Samantha Ricciardo, New Orleans


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
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LOUISIANA POETS GATHER FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH EVENT AT STATE LIBRARY

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Public invited to attend annual program hosted by Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell

 

BATON ROUGE—In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Louisiana Center for the Book is pleased to announce the eighth annual Just Listen to Yourself: The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets program. Jack Bedell, Louisiana Poet Laureate, will host the event on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Seminar Center of the State Library, 701 N. 4th St., Baton Rouge.

Bedell has invited ten poets from across the state to participate in readings of their work. Participating poets include Malaika Favorite, Amy Fleury, Ashley Havird, David Havird, Leigh Camacho Rourks, Mona Lisa Saloy, John Warner Smith, and Andy Young, as well as previous Louisiana poet laureates Darrell Bourque and Julie Kane.

“Poetry is an important part of Louisiana history,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “I know Jack and Rebecca will host another great event to highlight all the talent we have here.”

“Louisiana is rich in literary talent and Poet Laureate Jack Bedell has assembled a diverse and accomplished cohort of Louisiana poets for this much loved yearly event,” said Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian. “Whether you’re a long time poetry reader, or curious about exploring more in the genre, this program is sure to entertain and inspire.”

“I'm very proud to be a part of this year's Just Listen to Yourself program,” said Jack Bedell.  “The line-up of readers features poets from all four corners of our state, and I couldn't be more excited to share the stage with these talented artists. I can't think of a better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than listening to poems by these powerful, necessary Louisiana writers.”

The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch.

 

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--LouisianaTravel.com--

 

About The Louisiana Center for the Book

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana coordinates the annual Louisiana Book Festival and other programs and events supportive of reading, literacy, books, and writers, particularly Louisiana authors and poets.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225.342.4923
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Bill Sherman/Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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2017-2018 LOUISIANA READERS’ CHOICE WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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Louisiana school children in grades 3-12 name their favorite books of the year!
 
BATON ROUGE—The State Library of Louisiana is excited to announce the results of the 2017-2018 Louisiana Readers’ Choice Awards, which include a chapter book following the adventures of two hilarious pranksters, a graphic novel exploring the awkward middle school years, and a Young Adult fantasy/dystopia featuring a powerful queen. With the program in its 19th year, Louisiana’s young people read more than 73,597 books and cast 24,749 votes, allowing their voices to be heard. 
 
Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Grades 3-5 Winner:
The Terrible Two (Abrams)
by Mac Barnett & Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
 
Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Grades 6-8 Winner:
Awkward (Yen Press)
by Svetlana Chmakova
 
Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Grades 9-12 Winner:
Red Queen (HarperTeen)
by Victoria Aveyard
 
Honor titles include Ellie’s Story (Starscape) by W. Bruce Cameron for the grade 3-5 list, Backlash (Scholastic) by Sarah Darer Littman for the grade 6-8 list, and All American Boys (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books) by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely for the teen list. Winners are selected from diverse booklists carefully chosen by committees of school and public librarians from across the state, and many students cast their ballots on voting machines supplied by the Secretary of State’s Voter Outreach Division.
 
“The Louisiana Readers’ Choice Program introduces Louisiana students to the kind of books that inspire a lifelong love of reading,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “And as an added bonus, the opportunity to use real voting machines helps encourage an interest in democracy among our young citizens. The program invests in the future of our state in the best possible way.” 
 
“It’s wonderful to see so many Louisiana schools and libraries participating in this program,” said Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian of Louisiana. “High literacy rates contribute to everything from economic growth, to reduction in crime, increased civic engagement, and can even improve community health. On an individual level, reading is not only a pleasure, but can increase self-esteem and confidence, and can set students up for success years down the line.” 
 
An awards ceremony for honored book authors will be held at the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, November 10th.  For more information about the program, including previous winners, how to participate, and additional resources such as free bookmarks, posters, study guides, etc., please visit www.state.lib.la.us.

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
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Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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MS. LOUISIANA UNIVERSAL SHARES MOTIVATIONAL LECTURE AT STATE LIBRARY

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The Louisiana Center for the Book presents Havilah Malone in celebration of Black History Month
 
BATON ROUGE (January 30, 2018) — Celebrating Black History Month and the achievements and wisdom from members of the African American community, the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana welcomes author, speaker, and reigning Ms. Louisiana Universal, Havilah Malone, who will present her motivational seminar, “Take The Leap: Turning Pain Into Purpose," on Wednesday, February 21 at noon in the State Library’s Seminar Center, 701 North 4th Street, Baton Rouge.  
During the interactive presentation, attendees will learn tools and strategies to make the most of their new year and will discover:
  - The price of perfection that leads to one of the top five regrets in the world
  - How limiting beliefs and unconscious pain manifests in our lives, and
  - Five steps to win in life and how to overcome whatever is blocking your success.
 
Ms. Malone is the co-author of The Amazing Adventures of Oliver Hill: 17 Short Stories Based on the Principles of Success by Think and Grow Rich Author Napoleon Hill and author of How to Become a Publicity Magnet in Any Market via TV, Radio & Print and the soon to be released book series Xena’s Tales: 21 Pillars of Self-Mastery & Success. An inspirational African American leader from Louisiana, she has been featured on FOX, CBS, NBC, the Huffington Post, and more. Malone recently guest starred on CBS’s hit TV show NCIS: New Orleans.
 
The presentation is free and open to the public, and attendees are welcome to bring a “brown bag” lunch. Registration is not required. Books will be available for purchase from the author.
 
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About The Louisiana Center for the Book
The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana coordinates the annual Louisiana Book Festival and other programs and events supportive of reading, literacy, books, and writers, particularly Louisiana authors and poets.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
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Buddy Boe/Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
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LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS’ CHOICE PROGRAM ANNOUNCES 2018-2019 NOMINATED TITLES

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BATON ROUGE—(November 17, 2017)— Entering its 18th year, the Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice (LYRC) Awards Program is excited to announce the 2018-2019 nominated title lists for grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Every year tens of thousands of students from elementary to high school age vote on their favorite book from a list of titles curated by librarians serving on LYRC committees from across the state. Many students cast their ballot on real voting machines supplied by the Secretary of State’s Voter Outreach Division. 
 
“The Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Program encourages children and teens to read for pleasure and engage in literature,” Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser said. “Children who read tend to achieve more in school, instilling in them the value of the culture of literacy.”
 
The 2019 nominated title list includes award winning authors such as Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Jewell Parker Rhodes, Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander, and National Book Award Finalists for Young People's Literature Jason Reynolds and Nicola Yoon. Other outstanding authors on the lists include Joan Bauer, Marissa Meyer, James Patterson, Neal Shusterman, and Chris Grabenstein, as well as Louisiana award winning author, John Corey Whaley. From fiction to nonfiction, picture books to novels, science fiction to romance, historical to contemporary, these carefully chosen booklists cover a variety of interests and genres, so there is something for every reader. Please see below for a full list of nominated titles.
 
“I am so pleased that so many Louisiana schools and public libraries participate in the LYRC program every year. Exposing young people to diverse, quality, and engaging literature is at the forefront of our mission at the State Library. We hope these fantastic titles serve as a kind of gateway to a lifetime of reading for pleasure,” said State Librarian, Rebecca Hamilton. 
The Louisiana Readers’ Choice is a reading enrichment program of the Louisiana Center for the Book, housed in the State Library of Louisiana. Its mission is to foster a love of reading in the children of Louisiana by motivating them to participate in the recognition of outstanding books. According to a 2015 Kids Count report, only 63% of Louisiana’s fourth graders are reading above the basic level, and even fewer reading at a proficient level. Louisiana is third highest in the number of teens not in school and not high school graduates.  This is 50% higher than the national average.  The Louisiana Center for the Book and the State Library of Louisiana believe that fostering a lifelong love of reading among Louisianans will contribute to the state’s overall economic growth and quality of life.
For information about the program including previous winners, how to participate and additional resources such as free bookmarks, posters, study guides, etc., please visit www.state.lib.la.us. 
 
 
LYRC Grades 3-5 Nominated List
 
1. Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport (Simon & Schuster) 
 
2. Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho (Pajama Press)
 
3. The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic) 
 
4. FRAMED! A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster) 
 
5. The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring – The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford (Simon and Schuster)
 
6. My Life in Pictures by Deborah Zemke (Dial)
 
7. Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez (Peachtree Publishers) 
 
8. Soar by Joan Bauer (Viking) 
 
9. Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness by Donna Janell Bowman (Lee & Low Books)
 
10. Tiny Stitches – The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks, illustrated by Colin Bootman (Lee & Low Books) 
 
11. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown and Company)  
 
12. The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers (Henry Holt & Co.)
 
13. The William Hoy Story by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Jez Tuya (Albert Whitman & Co.) 
 
14. Wish by Barbara O’Connor (Farrar, Straus &Giroux) 
 
15. Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (Little, Brown & Co.)
 
LYRC Grades 6-8 Nominated List
 
1. The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White (Little, Brown) 
 
2. Booked by Kwame Alexander (Houghton) 
 
3. Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah (Sourcebooks, Jabberwocky)
 
4. Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger (Amulet) 
 
5. Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) 
 
6. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic) 
 
7. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers) 
 
8. Once Was a Time by Leila Sales (Chronicle Books) 
 
9. Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz (Scholastic) 
 
10. Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) 
 
11. The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. Payne ( Nancy Paulsen Books) 
 
12. Top Prospect by Paul Volponi (Lerner Publishing Group)
 
Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Nominated List
 
1. Aging Out by Alton Carter (Roadrunner Press) 
 
2. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (Katherine Tegen Books HarperCollins) 
 
3. Heartless by Marissa Meyer ( Feiwel & Friends)
 
4. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (Penguin) 
 
5. Riders (Book 1) by Veronica Rossi (Starscape/Tor) 
 
6. Scythe: Arc of a Scythe (Book 1) by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) 
 
7. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Random House) 
 
8. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (Delacorte Press) 
 
9. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston (Disney-Hyperion. IL: UG - BL: 4.8 - AR Pts: 12.0 - AR Quiz No. 187852 
 
10. Three Dark Crowns (Book 1) by Kendare Blake (HarperTeen)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
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Buddy Boe/Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225.342.1013
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LOUISIANA BOOK FESTIVAL CELEBRATES COOKING, CUISINE, AND MUSIC

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Local and International Sounds and Flavors to Be Featured at Annual Fall Festival
 
BATON ROUGE—(October 23, 2017)—The Louisiana Book Festival will feature chefs, cookbook authors, and music historians and scholars, musicians, and more on Saturday, October 28, during the free, daylong festival to be held throughout Capitol Park in Downtown Baton Rouge. 
 
MasterChef season 7 winner Shaun O’Neale, who was selected on the hit FOX show as the champion home cook by chefs Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi, and New Orleans’ own Aaron Sanchez, will give a cooking demonstration featuring recipes from his debut cookbook, My Modern American Table: Recipes for Inspired Home Cooks. His appearance is made possible in part by Karl Breaux, who will give a cooking demonstration earlier in the day, featuring his famous Cajun recipes. Also featured in the Cooking Demonstration Tent will be dietitian Shelly Marie Redmond with her cookbook, Skinny Louisiana...in the Kitchen. The Fonville Winans Cookbook: Recipes and Photographs from a Louisiana Artist will be featured at a cooking demonstration  presented by Cynthia Lejeune Nobles and Melinda Winans, Fonville’s daughter-in-law.  Southern cuisine will be the main course in Wendy Atkins-Sayre’s discussion of her book Consuming Identity: The Role of Food in Redefining the South.
 
Musical highlights include an appearance by punk rock icon and cofounding member of Black Flag, Keith Morris, who will be discussing his memoir, My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor. Alyn Shipton, BBC radio producer and author, will be presenting two programs, the first with Gwen Thompkins, host of National Public Radio’s Music Inside Out, during which they will discuss their contributions to Danny Barker’s A Life in Jazz. Later in the afternoon, Shipton will discuss his definitive Harry Nilsson biography, Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter. British writer and blues guitarist Julian C. Piper, who spent a year abroad at LSU studying and played blues at the Blues Box in Baton Rouge, will present his book Blues from the Bayou: The Rhythms of Baton Rouge.  Jack Sullivan examines musicians’ perpetual renewal in New Orleans Remix, and “may we introduce to you” noted Beatles historian Bruce Spizer with The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fan’s Perspective, 50 Years On.
 
All cooking demonstrations, book discussions, and panel presentations will be followed by book signings in the Barnes and Noble book signing tent, where attendees will have the opportunity to meet featured presenters. 
 
The Louisiana Book Festival will also feature musical performances in a variety of genres ranging from funk to folk, blues to zydeco, on the Entertainment Stage from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including performances by DUBYA, Nathan & The Zydeco Cha-Chas, Henry Gray, MondayNightSocial, Beth Hazel, and The Bills. 
 
For a full list of presenters, programs, times, and locations, please visit www.louisianabookfestival.org.  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225.342.4923
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Buddy Boe/Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225.342.1013
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STATE LIBRARIAN OF LOUISIANA REBECCA HAMILTON TO RECEIVE LYNDA CARLBERG AWARD

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Hamilton Honored for her Outstanding Contribution to Libraries
 
BATON ROUGE—(October 17, 2017)— For her outstanding contribution to libraries, Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian of Louisiana, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Lynda Carlberg Award, an honor established in 1998 in memory of Lynda Carlberg, director of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library system from 1978 to 1997.
 
Hamilton was appointed State Librarian in 2005 by then-Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu. This appointment made her the fourth State Librarian in the agency’s 97-year history, and the youngest State Librarian in the United States. Hamilton has since been reappointed by Lt. Governors Jay Dardenne, and most recently Billy Nungesser, who she works with today serving Louisiana’s 4.7 million citizens, 340 public library branches, and 68 public library systems. 
 
“I am deeply proud of State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton’s work promoting literacy and love of reading, skills that in today’s knowledge-based economy are critical to Louisiana’s overall economic growth,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “Her commitment to public access to educational and cultural resources is second to none, and the State Library has thrived under her leadership. This award could not have been bestowed on a more deserving individual.” 
 
Under Hamilton’s direction, the State Library of Louisiana underwent a top to bottom reorganization, streamlining operations and identifying efficiencies. In her first full year in office, Hamilton doubled the amount of State Aid to Public Libraries—the largest increase in the history of the program and the first increase in twenty years. In the following years of her appointment, and with no additional resources at her disposal, Hamilton implemented a new interlibrary loan system, oversaw the addition of content to statewide databases, and secured a line item in the annual budget for public library training. 
 
Additionally, Hamilton directed the rebuilding of the State Library’s internal network and backup systems, and, as a result, the State Library never lost Internet connectivity during the storms of 2008, while all other offices in the state government were down. She also worked closely with SOLINET to obtain a $12 million grant to provide temporary library facilities and other support after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the coast of Louisiana and neighboring states. It was during this time that Hamilton worked tirelessly alongside her fellow State Librarians impacted by these storms to ensure that FEMA change their definition of essential services to include public libraries. As a result of the role of public libraries during a disaster, Hamilton has published widely and created university-level coursework on the roles of public libraries during disasters, as well as giving presentations across the United States reporting the best practices set in place by Louisiana Libraries after natural disaster events. 
 
Hamilton, a champion in the fight to bridge the digital divide in Louisiana, oversaw the submission which won the State Library an $8.8M grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) of the Department of Commerce in 2010. The grant provided the State Library the resources to deliver technology and soft skills classes to over 26,000 participants, purchase laptops for checkout in public libraries across the state, implement Homework Louisiana, and obtain accessibility equipment and software for every parish, among many other impactful accomplishments, all geared to promote workforce development and make a difference in the lives of Louisiana citizens. 
 
Hamilton was awarded the Anthony Benoit Mid-Career Award by the Louisiana Library Association in 2012; has been named an outstanding graduate of the LSU School of Library and Information Science; was awarded the LSU Community Partner Award in 2014; and was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by the Baton Rouge Business Report in 2007. 
 
She will be presented with the Lynda Carlberg Award today, Tuesday, October 17th, at the Libraries Southwest Author/Award Dinner. Libraries Southwest is a nonprofit corporation of libraries, librarians, trustees, and individuals interested in the promotion and enhancement of libraries and library services.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225.342.4923
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Buddy Boe/Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225.342.1013
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it /  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

BOOK FESTIVAL FOSTERS A LOVE OF READING, DELIVERS FUN FOR LOUISIANA’S YOUNGEST RESIDENTS

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BATON ROUGE—(October 11, 2017)—The Louisiana Book Festival, a free, family-friendly event to be held on Saturday, October 28th in Baton Rouge’s Capitol Park is excited to announce an awesome line-up of programming, activities, author readings, book signings, games, and crafts specifically designed for young people ranging in age from toddlers to late teens.   
 
“What better way to encourage a love of reading in our children than with a festival where kids have an opportunity to meet their favorite authors, participate in crafts and games connected to featured books, and maybe even take home a copy of a book that the author has personalized for them? We are so happy to be able to offer this fun and enriching book festival for Louisiana families from across the state to enjoy,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.
 
Highlights at this year’s festival include Newbery Medal and Margaret A. Edwards Award recipient Richard Peck with his latest middle grade novel, The Best Man; this year’s Louisiana Writer Award recipient, Mumbo Jumbo, Stay Out of the Gumbo author, Johnette Downing; 2008 Louisiana Writer Award recipient and Academy Award winning and #1 New York Times bestselling children’s author William Joyce, presenting a special reissue of his classic picture book, Santa Calls; G. Brian Karas, illustrator of the New York Times bestseller and 2017 Louisiana Young Readers choice winner, Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla; and Andrea Page’s Sioux Code Talkers of World War II, which has been nominated for the 2018 American Indian Youth Literature Awards, among many other authors of children’s picture books and middle grade novels. There will also be a special appearance by the storybook characters Elephant and Piggie!
 
“The State Library of Louisiana and the Louisiana Center for the Book are committed to promoting early childhood literacy and to nurturing a lifelong love of reading and literature in young Louisianans,” said State Librarian of Louisiana, Rebecca Hamilton. “Our annual fall book festival offers a wonderful opportunity to reach both book lovers and reluctant readers alike.” 
 
Teen HQ will feature a variety of young adult authors, panels, and activities including New York Times bestselling author and Louisiana native, Claudia Gray (Defy the Stars); 2016 Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner Brendan Kiely with his new book, The Last True Love Story; Jesse Haynes, host of the iTunes top 50 podcast The Others; and 2019 Louisiana Teen Reader’s Choice finalist and winner of the 2017 In the Margins Award for Nonfiction for his book Aging Out, Alton Carter. An Our #OwnVoices panel will feature Kiley, as well as Jasmine Warga (Here We Are Now), whose books have been translated into more than 20 languages, Caleb Roehrig, whose novel, Last Seen Leaving, was named a Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year, and Emmy Award winner and former puppet designer in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, Laurent Linn with his book, Draw the Line. 
 
Pre-festival activities include a WordShop by young adult author and 2019 Louisiana Teen Reader’s Choice finalist, author Jeff Zentner. Zentner, whose WordShop, Writing with Voice, will take place on Friday, October 27th from 1-4 p.m., is the winner of the 2017 William C. Morris YA Debut Award for his book, The Serpent King, which was also named a best book of the year by more than 10 publications, including a New York Times Notable Book, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, a Southern Living Best Book of the Year, and a BuzzFeed Best YA Book of the Year. His latest novel, Goodbye Days, was called “masterful” by TeenVogue. Writers of various levels of experience are invited to take his and other WordShops offered. For full details and registration, please visit www.louisianabookfestival.org/wordshops.html
 
For a full line-up and schedule of Louisiana Book Festival authors and presenters, please visit www.louisianabookfestival.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Rebecca Hamilton
State Library of Louisiana
225.342.4923
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Buddy Boe/Jessica Ragusa
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
225.342.1013
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it /  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
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