Pa. Center for the Book honors 2016 Letters About Literature contest winners

June 27, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Center for the Book recently recognized the Pennsylvania winners of the 2016 Letters About Literature Contest, a nationwide event sponsored by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. This contest invites students in three grade levels to write letters to authors — living or dead — about how an author’s words affected them or changed their world view. 

The Level I (grades four to six) winner, Maya Yvonne Burley of Pittsburgh, was honored for her letter to Maya Angelou about “Phenomenal Woman.” The Level II (grades seven to eight) winner, Taylor Maney of Doylestown, wrote her letter to Ned Vizzini about “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” And the Level III (grades nine to 12) winner, Christine A. Troll of Somerset, was honored for her letter to Charles Dickens about “The Old Curiosity Shop.” Winners received $200 and were honored at a celebratory luncheon with their families on Saturday, June 25, at the Nittany Lion Inn at Penn State’s University Park campus.

Additional honors also have been awarded to several contest participants:

  • Level I: Honor of high distinction to Phoebe Mullen of State College, for her letter to Sharon Creech about “Chasing Redbird,” for which Phoebe will receive $50. Honorable mention winners include Sean M. Adams of Boalsburg, for his letter to L.M. Elliott about “Under a War-Torn Sky”; Angelina Hinkle of Marietta, for her letter to Connor Franta about “A Work in Progress”; and Kaitlyn Flanagan of Plymouth Meeting, for her letter to Katherine Applegate about “The One and Only Ivan.”
  • Level II: Honorable mention winners include Jaedon Otto of King of Prussia, for his letter to Robert Frost about “The Road Not Taken,” and Emma Venanzi of Pottstown, for her letter to Maya Angelou about “Ailey, Baldwin, Floyd, Killens and Mayfield.”
  • Level III Honorable mention winners include Lily Bonasso of Pittsburgh, for her letter to Markus Zusak about “The Book Thief,” and Elizabeth Petley of Pittsburgh, for her letter to Zak Ebrahim about “The Terrorist’s Son.”

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s 2016 Letters About Literature contest judges included Lynn Cockett, professor of communication, Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania; Megan Gilpin, coordinator of outreach, Library Learning Services, Penn State University Libraries, University Park, Pennsylvania; Linda Oatman High, author of books for children and teens, journalist and playwright, Narvon, Pennsylvania; Theresa M. Hoover, assistant professor of education, Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; and Pat Hughes, author of books for children and young adults, Narberth, Pennsylvania.

The annual nationwide Letters About Literature Contest is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. For participation guidelines, visit Letters About Literature at the Library of Congress online at

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. Since 2000, the Pennsylvania Center for the Book has been sponsored by the Penn State University Libraries. 

In addition to providing space and administrative support for the Center’s offices, the University Libraries and the Center’s co-sponsor, Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications Barbara I. Dewey, provide in-kind contributions that include staff and faculty time as well as the Pennsylvania Center for the Book alcove in 201-A Pattee Library.

For more information about the Letters About Literature contest in Pennsylvania, contact Caroline Wermuth, outreach coordinator (; 814-863-5472), or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website,

Last Updated June 30, 2016