LAL Student Writing Contest Winners Named

May 2, 2019

Top honors have gone to three Wyoming students in state-level competition the 2018-19 Letters About Literature Contest. Letters About Literature encourages students to read, be inspired, and write back to their favorite authors. The Wyoming State Library awarded Arundathi Nair of Laramie first place in Level III (grades 9-12). Saimaa Widi, Cheyenne, placed first in Level II (grades 7-8). Padmalakshmi Ramesh, Laramie, placed first in Level I (grades 4-6). All three first place winners advanced to national competition.

Letters About Literature asks students to respond to a book, rather than simply report on it. What matters most is the connection the student makes with the author’s words and the impact it has on that student’s life and how they see the world.

Nair wrote to Paulo Coelho about his book, The Alchemist, a book that helped her think about her path in life. “It was not only comforting,” she wrote, “but liberating to realize that, ‘…when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’” She posted these words from the author on her corkboard. “These are the words that I wake up to every day and go to bed to every night. They reassure, comfort, and encourage me.”

Widi was inspired by the poem, “Why Am I Not Good Enough,” by Olivia Vella. “I saw myself in the words you were speaking, realizing how many times I had felt the way you said you felt,” Widi wrote. “I watched that video over and over and over again, holding on to everything you were saying. That’s the day I became a whole lot happier.”

After reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Ramesh “…changed the way I look at people. Now, I am able to better understand others’ emotions and empathize with them, which shows the value of kindness.” Ramesh went on to write, “Wonder conveys many morals about kindness, friendship, support, and more…Now, I have sewn these values into my daily life as much as I can.”

Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. For more information about Letters About Literature, contact Susan Mark at or (307) 777-5915.

Full list of winners:

LEVEL I: Grades 4-6

LEVEL II: Grades 7-8

LEVEL III: Grades 9-12

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