Massachusetts Center for the Book is pleased to announce another successful year in its flagship program for young people, Letters About Literature (LAL), a reading and writing initiative that invites students from Grades 4 to 12 to write letters to authors about the books that have had profound effects on them.
The Center received thousands of submissions from all corners of the Commonwealth, continuing our tradition as one of the most robust LAL programs in the country. In fact, this year the program saw a 25% increase in participation, a fitting way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of LAL in Massachusetts.
Wesley L. Ross of Manchester, a 6th grader at Manchester Essex Regional Middle School, wrote a thoughtful and personal letter to Alan Gratz about Refugee, recognized as an Honorable Mention in the Level 1 category.
Representative Paul McMurtry (11th Norfolk), House Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, has joined Massachusetts Center for the Book in a virtual commendation of the students.
"I'm pleased to congratulate all the students on their outstanding achievement," McMurtry stated. "I'm grateful to the Mass Center for the Book for offering an imaginative cultural program that combines the joys of books, reading and writing and opens the minds of students, allowing for a small glimpse into the thinking of the next generation - our future looks bright."
Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director of the Center, agreed. “As we send our congratulations, we also send our thanks to these students and their peers for sharing their personal and reflective explorations of the literary imagination and its impact on their lives,” said Shaloo.
Judges in the 2020 program were Arlington resident Tom Formicola, Executive Director of Arlington Center for the Arts; Beverly resident Deborah Lang Froggatt, Director of Boston Public Schools Library Services; and Williamstown resident Carrie Waara, Professor of History (retired), Castleton University (VT). They were supported by a team of screeners from the School of Library and Information Sciences at Simmons University, Boston.
The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting and promoting cultural programming that advances the cause of books and reading and enhances the outreach potential of Massachusetts public libraries.