Juliana Osgood, a sixth grade student in Leah Mattox’s language arts class, has been selected as the state of Iowa’s first place champion of the Letters About Literature Level 1 Division. Osgood and four of her classmates were recently recognized for their exemplary writing skills in the national reading-writing program.
LAL is a national reading promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target and affiliate state centers for the book. The program is designed to cultivate independent readers through inviting students in grades 4-12 to write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, and explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s way of thinking about themselves or the world.
Juliana was recognized for her poignant letter written to author Patricia MacLachlan, author of Edward’s Eyes. Her letter was selected from a pool of 532 letters submitted from 4th-6th grade students in Iowa. Osgood stated, “Reading nearly two hours each night and getting feedback about my writing from my teachers has helped me become a better writer. I have written a lot over the last two years at Lenihan, and that has helped me in processing my thoughts.” Juliana, her family, and teachers, have been invited to an award ceremony at the State Library in May. Her letter is now being considered for national recognition and the opportunity to earn a $10,000 grant for the library of her choice.
Also recognized for outstanding writing skills were finalists: Kyra Buckley and Ruth Doser, and semi-finalists Taylor Bacon and Destiny Aldrich. Bacon wrote to the author of A Horse of Her Own while Aldrich wrote to Dan Poblockic, author of The Stone Child. Doser wrote to favorite author, J.K. Rowling, and Buckley shared an important lesson with author Mary Hogan from her book, Pretty Face.
Thirty students from Mrs. Mattox and Mrs. Finder’s afternoon language arts sections participated in the Letters About Literature program this year. The lessons were collaboratively taught with Mrs. Roessler as part of the Extended Learning Program at Lenihan. Mrs. Mattox commented, “We are extremely pleased with the recognition these writers have received. Their diligence and our district’s new writing curriculum together have produced some strong writers. To have a record five students recognized this year is very affirming.”