My husband and I can never resist a book sale. On our most recent excursion, in support of our local retired teachers’ association, I couldn’t resist adding to my growing collection of books related to authors. My newest purchase, Dear Author, features student letters collected by Weekly Reader’s Read Magazine.
Read is a literary magazine for students. Along with The Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, the magazine used to cosponsor an essay contest called Letters About Literature. Each fall, editors at Read would invite students to write a personal letter to the author of a book that somehow changed the students’ way of thinking. In 1995, a sample of their received entries were published in Dear Author.
Students from all over United States wrote to authors from different centuries, countries, and genres. A few of the books they cited are no longer in print and ones I’ve never heard of, nor probably have you. The majority though are notables such as The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, It’s Not the End of the World by Judy Blume, The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett, and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. As you can see, students didn’t limit their readings to one particular age group.
The letters were grouped into five topics: overcoming difficulties, power of conviction, self-discovery, war, and self-discovery. The last category has only one letter, a hilarious one written to children’s poet Shel Silverstein.
Some letters were short, others long, and all were interesting to read. It’d be hard to summarize them and so instead I’m sharing one that stood out to me. Most of the students wrote about how the letters had helped them in a pivotal moment, changed their mindset, or made them better people. However, one girl of twelve told William Sleator, “When I grow up, I am going to be a science fiction writer…. I will dedicate at least one of my science fiction books to you.” Two other students expressed a similar thought to the authors whom they wrote, but I quoted Lindsay Mayer’s letter because today she is a science fiction writer. Wow!
My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.
Américas Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature
CLASP founded the Américas Award in 1993 to encourage and commend authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States.
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. It was established by in 1936, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.
The Christy Awards are awarded each year to recognize novels of excellence written from a Christian worldview.
Coretta Scott King Award
The Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples. It is given to African American authors and illustrator.
children and young adult blogger literacy awards
Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award
The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award was initiated in 2000 to recognize authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that appropriately portray individuals with deve
Hans Christian Anderson Award
The Hans Christian Andersen Awards is given to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The award is the highest international recognition an author can receive.
Kate Greenaway Medal
The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It is named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her fine children’s illustrations and designs.
Middle East Book Award
The Middle East Book Award recognizes quality books for children and young adults that contribute meaningfully to an understanding of the Middle East and its component societies and cultures.
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award
Honors fantasy books for younger readers, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia
Newbery Medal Award
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Pura Belpré Award
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. It is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino experience.
Red House Book Award
The Red House Children’s Book Award is a series of literary prizes for works of children’s literature published during the previous year in England.
Sydney Taylor Award
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.