New Mexico State Library

Champions of New Mexico’s 2023 Letters About Literature contest announced

May 03, 2023

Brandon Brown

Santa Fe, NM – New Mexico State Library (NMSL) is proud to announce the winners of the 2023 New Mexico Letters About Literature competition. They are Amber Yoder, Adele Kaltenbach, and Greta Martin. 

Letters About Literature 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. NMSL believes that the lives of our state’s young readers are enriched when they are asked to reflect on literature in this way. Students may write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, and participate across three levels according to their grade level. Cash prizes are awarded to first, second, and third place winners in each competition level and Collected Works gift cards are given to honorable mentions. 

Amber Yoder, a fifth grade student in Albuquerque, is the Level I champion. Amber wrote her letter to Raina Telgemeier about her book Smile, an autobiographical graphic novel characterized by dental procedures and struggles with fitting in. 

Adele Kaltenbach, a seventh grade student in Santa Fe, is the Level II champion. Her letter is addressed to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Hitchhiker’s Guide is the first book in a comedy science fiction series, which has been called a “trilogy of five books.” The series is punctuated by many characters’ search for meaning in their lives and the significance of their own existences. 

Greta Martin, a tenth grade student in Tijeras, is the Level III champion. Greta wrote to Elle McNicoll about her book A Kind of Spark, which follows an autistic eleven year old who seeks to memorialize the women tried as witches in a Scottish village. A Kind of Spark is a beautiful story of bravery, compassion, and the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong and act accordingly.  

This year, 183 New Mexico students entered the Letters About Literature contest, and judging occurred in three rounds across the different competition levels. A panel of judges, comprised of librarians, authors, and book professionals from across the state, helped select the winners. The panel selected a list of first place, second place, third place, and honorable mention writers from the 65 finalists. Many New Mexico schools and home-schooled students from around the state participated in the competition. Additionally, NMSL also appreciates the support of teachers, librarians, and parents for Letters About Literature. 

Letters About Literature is made possible by NMSL, 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 tenth year NMSL has sponsored the competition. To read the three winners letters or learn more about the New Mexico Letters About Literature competition, please visit 

About the New Mexico State Library   Established in 1929, the New Mexico State Library is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the guidance of the New Mexico Library Commission. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the New Mexico State Library Foundation through the generous support of donors. The New Mexico State Library provides services that support public and tribal libraries, delivers direct library services to rural populations, state agencies, the visually impaired and physically disabled, and students and citizens conducting research. The library supports public libraries by providing consulting services, offering training and continuing education opportunities, administering the librarian certification program, coordinating a statewide summer reading program and tribal library program, and administering state and federal grants to public libraries. 

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