The English Farm, the French Army, and Succotash


By C.G. Wolfe

Far Hills Student Wins

Library of Congress Writing Contest

The English Farm in Liberty Corner, NJ

IN THE CLASSROOM

celebrating a sense of place

Far Hills (FH) fifth-grader, Hannah Castiglione, won first place in the 2019 Letters About Literature State Competition (Level 1, Grades 4–6) presented by the Library of Congress. Fellow FH fifth-grader, Nate Lawton, was also acknowledged with distinguished honors for his contest entry by the state judges. 

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in Grades 4–12. Entrants are asked to read a fiction or nonfiction book, book series, short story, poem, essay, or speech (excluding song lyrics) and write to the author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. Miss Castiglione wrote a letter to author Liz Kessler who penned the Emily Windsnap series of books about an ordinary girl who finds out that she becomes a mermaid when she goes in water. Master Lawton wrote his letter to Norton Juster, author of the fantasy adventure story, The Phantom Tollbooth . Letters are judged on both state and national levels in three different age groups. Tens of thousands of students from across the country—over 6,000 of whom are from New Jersey—enter Letters About Literature each year. 

This is the first year that Far Hills has participated in the contest. FH Grade 5 students recently read The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff. The novel is written in a unique and engaging format—a submission to a writing contest. Grade 5 English Teacher Natalie Young was inspired to find a writing contest for her students to participate in while reading the novel. The Letters About Literature contest was an ideal fit. Mrs. Young and fellow Grade 5 Teacher, Gemma Keremedjiev, encouraged students to explain why a book had given them wings or changed them in some way as they crafted their essays. Sharing positive experiences with reading fostered an environment where love of reading is celebrated and encouraged. Said Miss Castiglione, “I think that I think writing the letter helped me come back to the story and think about trying new challenges, which I learned from the Emily Windsnap books.” 

The students, their parents and teachers will attend an awards ceremony and reception at Rutgers College Avenue Student Center at 2 p.m. on May 15 hosted by the New Jersey Center for the Book (NJCB). Certificates from Governor Phil Murphy will be presented to the student authors and to their teachers for encouraging the young writers to enter the contest. Far Hills inspires academic excellence and life skills such as resourcefulness, resilience, integrity, self-control, and a myriad of other invaluable traits that lay the foundation for lifelong success. For additional information, please visit our website at fhcds.org or contact Stacy Ducharme, Communications Manager, at sducharme@fhcds.org.