For the latest news, events and announcements about UA, please visit

The new UA News Center features news channels specifically for students, faculty and staff, media and research. The UA News Center uses video, photography and narrative to tell the UA story to our various audiences. It also serves as a hub for finding information on campus resources and calendars. will remain in place temporarily as an archive, but will no longer be updated.

The University of Alabama

Center for the Book at UA Announces Winners of Letters About Literature

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Students from across Alabama have won recognition from Letters About Literature, a national reading and writing program.

The Alabama Center for the Book, based at The University of Alabama, sponsors the contest.

Among the winners are: Front row: Hannah Soloff (Montgomery Academy), Caleb Clarke (Spanish Fort Middle School, Spanish Fort) and Francie Hill (The Montgomery Academy). Back row: Rupa Palanki ( Individual entry, Mobile), Sarah Jane Kachelman (Florence High School, Florence) and Claudia Mitchell (Randolph School, Huntsville).

The program asks young people in grades four through 12 to write to an author (living or dead) about how his or her book affected their lives. Six hundred Alabama students participated in this year’s contest and wrote to authors as diverse as Jeff Kinney, author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever”; S. E. Hinton, author of “The Outsiders”; and Gustave Flaubert, author of “Madame Bovary.”

Sixty-four students were selected as state semi-finalists. Each semi-finalist received a certificate from the center. The top letters in each competition level were selected:  Level 1 (grades 4-6), Level 2 (grades 7-8) and Level 3 (grades 9-12).

First-place winners received a $50 Target gift card, $100 from the Alabama Center for the Book and a journal. Second place, third place and honorable-mention winners received cash awards from the center and journals.

The three first-place winners will now advance to the national competition sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target. Winners will be announced later this month. The winners were honored at a reception April 7 at UA’s Gorgas Library.

The winners are:

Level 1 (Grades 4-6)

First Place: Caleb Clarke, Spanish Fort Middle School

Second Place: Hannah Soloff, Montgomery Academy

Third Place: Francie Hill, Montgomery Academy

Honorable Mention: Julia Coccaro, Spanish Fort Middle School

Level 2 (Grades 7-8)

First Place: Chenna Christoffer, Tuscaloosa Academy

Second Place: Rupa Palanki, Phillips Preparatory School (individual entry), Mobile

Third Place: Mario Madrigal, Oxford Middle School

Level 3 (Grades 9-12)

First Place: Claudia Mitchell, Randolph School, Huntsville

Second Place: Sara Jane Kachelman, Florence High School

Third Place: Claire Oldfather, Providence Classical School, Huntsville

2012 Alabama semi-finalists:

Level 1

Advent Episcopal School, Birmingham: Shelby Lloyd, Sophia Higgs

Berry Middle School, Hoover: Anthony Minopoli, Adnan Reddy, Andrew Gedgoudas, Kristen Smith, Tuba Khan

Highlands School, Birmingham: Megan Seidel, Anna Lisa Goodman, Ada Cohen

Montgomery Academy: Bisola Adediji, Sujin Lee, Tara Katz, Catherine Updegraff, Mary Jane McConnell

Providence Classical School:  Madelyn Clark

Spanish Fort Middle School: Hannah James, Lana Stringer, Hunter Langham, Madison Fabber

Level 2

Advent Episcopal School: Raleigh Bruce, Ellie Gorman, Tomeka Frieson, Olivia Minor

Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet Middle School, Montgomery: Harper Johnson, Brittney Hudson, Kara Moncrief, Zachary Fitzgerald

Highlands School, Birmingham: Mary Frances Lembke

Oxford Middle School: Lauren Curry

Providence Classical School: Aidan Lambrecht, Mary Katherine Givhan, Drew Lindley

Tuscaloosa Academy: Addison Harrison, Chelsea Alan, William Henson

Level 3

Colbert Heights High School, Tuscumbia: Isabella Janice Roland, individual entry

Florence High School: Gabrielle D’Arcy, Caroline Lentz, Hannah Wright, Teena Patel

Pelham High School: Kaitlin Moon, Paige Knight, Stormy Womack, Ashley Brown, Belle Griffin, Emily Rames, Alexis Lang

Providence Classical: Joshua Daniles, Matthew McDavid, Olivia Miller, Savannah Silver, Faith Buckley, Elizabeth Cummings

The Alabama Center for the Book works with many organizations, individuals and agencies to promote reading, literacy, publishing and other book-related activities. The Alabama Center for the Book is the Alabama affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book and is housed in the University Libraries at The University of Alabama.

The center is located at 711 Capstone Drive, Tuscaloosa, AL, in the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, room 201.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to stimulate public interest in books and reading, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally.

The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.

Target sponsors Letters About Literature as part of its commitment to supporting education and early childhood reading. Target recognizes the integral role that reading plays in shaping a child’s future because reading is the foundation for lifelong learning and success.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.