Library of Congress Announce Apoorva Chauhan National Winner of the 2017 Letters About Literature Award
Las Vegan Apoorva Chauhan, one of the three national winners and only one in the Grades 9-12 category, wrote to Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Apoorva, as student at the Northwest Career and Technical Academy, was chosen from the tens of thousands of entries for the national competition conducted by the Library of Congress.
In her letter to the book author Stephen Chbosky, she writes that “Time and time again they have acted as a doorway to new worlds and adventures, easy to escape to when reality becomes considerably unappealing.” Apoorva also mentioned her background on how she has been a voracious reader for as long as she could remember, and the one constant companion she can recall is a good book. “Reading to me was like breathing to others; I could not imagine a version of myself that was unable to enjoy reading’, wrote Apoorva.
Apoorva was ten years old when her parents died in a car accident. “Whenever I got upset, disconnecting from my own woes to share those of people I would never meet beyond the realm of pages and ink was the only therapy I needed. It was the be-all end-all cure”, wrote Apoorva. In a letter to the book author, she continues, “I didn’t want the platitudes of distant relatives, or the pitying looks of my friends. I wanted to forget. So imagine my surprise when I opened my books and I couldn’t. I tried. I tried re-reading all my old favorites. When that didn’t work, I looked for something new, something different that would hopefully please this different me. I read every genre, from science fiction to romance, young adult to classics, and nothing could suck me into a different world”.
Before reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, books had always been my escape, be it when my mother and older sister were fighting, after a trying day in school, or when reality was just plain boring. After the accident, I was stuck in the grim actuality of my existence without the option of running to a fictional land with fictional problems.
“I was stuck in the mindset that books were only good for absconding from my world, rather than understanding it. After walking through Charlie’s adventure with him, I learned how to connect with my reality and accept myself for the new person I had become, rather than seeing my new life as a prison. My adventure is one unique to me, and one to be cherished through the good times and the bad because at least I’m still around to experience it.”
“Your book walked me through living in another world again, something I feared would be lost to me forever. It helped me learn how to participate and live and feel again. I can’t say that I am the same person I was four years prior to reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I can say that I don’t want to be that same person anymore.”
The process begins with a selection of a book that student has read and has strong feelings with the book contents. The letter to the author is at a personal level, more like a private conversation with an author with specific details. It involves more critical thinking at a personal level.
Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Students are asked to read a book, poem or speech and write to the author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year
The Library of Congress promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations
For participating in the 2018 award program the letters due date is January 12, 2018.