Congratulations to Ella Hanson of Conrad Christian School and Ben Roeder of the Greenfield School of Fairfield. They are two of the winners in the Letters About Literature competition, sponsored by Humanities Montana!


Letters About Literature is a reading and writing promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Presented in partnership with Target Stores, the program is sponsored at the state level by Humanities Montana and the Montana Center for the Book.

“We are so grateful for the eloquence, creativity and dedication of these younger readers,” said Ken Egan, executive director of Humanities Montana. “They are demonstrating that Montana’s rich literary tradition has a promising future. And thanks to the teachers who encouraged the award winners and all participants.”

To enter, young readers write personal letters to authors explaining how their work changed their views of the world or themselves. Readers selected authors from any genre—from fiction or nonfiction, contemporary to classic. The program has three competition levels: upper elementary, middle school and secondary. The contest theme encourages young readers to explore their responses to a book and then express those responses in a creative, original way.

The state winners in the three age categories are:


Level I, grades 4–6

  • First Place, Ella Hanson, Conrad Christian School, Conrad, for her letter to Jean Merrill, author of The Toothpaste Millionaire
  • Second Place, Hailey Giles, Whitefish Middle School, Whitefish, for her letter to Cynthia Lord, author of Rules 
  • Third Place, Mackenzie George, Meadow Lark Elementary, Great Falls, for her letter to Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Level II, grades 7–8

  • First Place, Sarah Ward, Bigfork Middle School, Bigfork, for her letter to Katherine Hannigan, author of Ida B.
  • Second Place, Ben Roeder, Greenfield School, Fairfield, for his letter to Bryan Davis, author of The Bones of Makaidos 
  • Third Place, Karlie Keller, Hysham Public, Hysham, for her letter to Sharon Creech, author of Two Moons  

Level III, grades 9–12

  • First Place, Jaylen Country, Poplar High School, Poplar, for his letter to Sophocles, author of Oedipus the King
  • Second Place, Michelle Mullowney, Billings West High School, Billings for her letter to Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon
  • Third Place – tie, Geneva Copeland, Billings West High School, Billings, for her letter to Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes
  • Third Place – tie, Taree’an Tuttle, Poplar High School, Poplar, for her letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, author of the essay “Self-Reliance”

Montana finalists each receive a cash prize, and state first-place winners each receive a $50 gift card to Target Stores. First-place winners also were entered in the national contest.

This year’s LAL state judges were English Professor Penny Hughes-Briant at The University of Great Falls, Missoula author Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Professor of English Emeritus Sharon Beehler at MSU-Bozeman, and Humanities Montana Program Assistant Samantha Dwyer. Guidelines for the 2013 Letters About Literature program will be posted in August on the Humanities Montana website.

Humanities Montana is the state’s independent nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 1972, Humanities Montana has provided services and grants to hundreds of Montana organizations in support of public programs in history, literature, values, and public issues. Among its many programs are its grants, Montana Conversations: Speakers Bureau and Speakers in the Schools, the Humanities Montana Festival of the Book, Letters About Literature, and the Governor’s Humanities Awards.