Williamstown Student Honored at State House

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Williamstown fifth-grader Flora Birch was accompanied by her parents while being honored at the State House in Boston.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Massachusetts Center for the Book welcomed 30 students in grades four through 12 to a State House awards ceremony held in the Reading Room of the State Library on April 24. Williamstown resident Flora Birch, a fifth-grader at Pine Cobble School in Williamstown, received honors in the Level 1 division for her letter to author Lynda Mullaly Hunt about the resonance of her book "Fish in a Tree. "

Both Sen. Adam Hinds and Rep. John Barrett provided State House citations for Flora. Rep. Kate Hogan, chairperson of the Joint Committee on Public Health and a director of MCB, provided the legislative welcome and urged the gathering of students to make reading a lifelong habit.

Representing the top 1 percent of participants from across Massachusetts, the honorees wrote letters addressed to an author, poet or playwright whose work had impacted them personally. Joined by family, teachers, and librarians, the students were commended individually by their program judges and legislators. The top honorees in each of three grade levels will proceed to the national level of the competition.  

"Letters About Literature is a powerful reminder of the importance of books and reading in a civil society," said Sharon Shaloo, executive director of Mass Center for the Book. "This reading and writing exercise prepares our young people for informed deliberation and discourse."

Sponsored nationwide by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Massachusetts program once again received thousands of letters from all corners of the Commonwealth, earning its perennial place amongst the most active programs in the country.  An outstanding team of judges was led by Anita Silvey, children's literature author and educator, and Robert MacLean, director of the Weymouth Public Libraries, with assistance from Center staff.  

The 25th annual Letters About Literature program is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

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