New Mexico State Library

New Mexico Letters About Literature

May 13, 2021

Eli Guinnee

Santa Fe, N.M. – The New Mexico State Library has announced the state winners of the 2021 New Mexico Letters About Literature competition. This writing contest encourages young readers in grades 4 -12 to read a book and write a personal letter to the author explaining how the book changed or shaped their perspective on themselves or the world. Students may write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Letter writers compete at three levels: Level I is grades 4-6; Level II is grades 7-8; and Level III is grades 9-12. The writers compete to win cash prizes in each competition level.

Emma Deifel, a sixth grade student in Albuquerque, is the Level 1 champion.  Emma wrote her letter to Raina Telgemeier about her book, Guts.

Piper Heffron, a seventh grade student in Albuquerque, is the Level 2 champion. Her letter is addressed to the Chloe by Design series author, Margaret Gurevich.

Isabelle Workman, an eleventh grade student in Farmington, is the Level 3 champion. Isabelle wrote her letter to Jandy Nelson about her book, I’ll Give You the Sun.

Just under one hundred New Mexico students entered the 2021 contest.  Of those entries, 55 writers advanced to round two and 29 writers advanced to round three.  In Level 1, there were 56 entries with 13 letters advancing to round three state judging.  In Level 2, there were 24 entries with 8 letters advancing to round three.  In Level 3, there were 17 entries with 8 letters moving on to round three state judging.  All of the writers who advanced to round two received an award certificate in the mail.  From the twenty-nine round 3 state finalists, the state judges selected three champions, three second place writers, three third place writers, and six honorable mention letters.  Many New Mexico schools and home schooled students from around the state participate in the competition.  We appreciate the support of teachers, librarians, and parents for Letters About Literature.

The final two judging rounds panel was comprised of librarians, authors, and book professionals from across the state including: Caroline Dechert, Retired MOIFA Librarian, Ranchos de Taos; Susan E. Beck, Professor & Head of Access Services at New Mexico State University Library, Las Cruces; Norice Lee, Associate Library Director, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, Health Sciences Library, Las Cruces ; retired State Librarian, Ben Wakashige; Anne Price, Youth Services Manager, Octavia Fellin Public Library, Gallup; Malcolm Alonzo, Library Services Supervisor, The Public Library of Albuquerque and Bernalillo, Westgate Branch; Deanne Dekle, Youth Services & Outreach Consultant, New Mexico State Library; Kat Gullahorn, Public Services Librarian, University of New Mexico Valencia Campus Library; Stephanie Wilson, Law Librarian Senior, New Mexico Supreme Court Law Library, Santa Fe; and Thomas D. Clagett, Author, Santa Fe.

Letters About Literature is made possible by the New Mexico State Library which is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.  This is the eighth year New Mexico State Library has sponsored the competition.  To read the three winning letters or learn more about the New Mexico Letters About Literature competition please visit - or send a message to

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New Mexico Center for the Book

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