Washington Co. student a finalist in writing contest

April 24, 2008|By JANET HEIM

John Strauss is an avid reader. The Emma K. Doub fourth-grader was convinced he didn't like mysteries, until lack of reading material while on vacation and a little encouragement from his father persuaded him to give the Hardy Boys a try.

Now he's hooked amassing a collection of most of their books and getting to the point that he and a friend pretend to investigate crimes.

When his teacher, Nina Wolfe, told the class about the 2008 Letters about Literature national writing contest, John decided to enter.

Wolfe said writing contests provide the motivation some students need to write.

The Letters about Literature contest is a program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Its goal is to encourage students in grades 4 through 12 to read, be inspired and share with the author how their lives have been affected by their book or books.


John wrote a letter to Franklin W. Dixon, author of the Hardy Boys series, telling him how his story, "The Mystery of the Missing Chums," changed John's life.

"Just one of your books changed my life. Now I always try to read mysteries because I think they are so cool," John wrote in his letter.

More than 59,000 entries were received nationwide, 1,069 from Maryland. John's letter was selected as a Level One finalist for the state of Maryland and he was one of more than 100 elementary, middle and high school students honored April 19 at an awards ceremony at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.

John said he was excited to hear of his selection as a finalist because he knew there were many entries. He said he had never been a finalist in such a big contest before.

The ceremony was held during the CityLit Festival and featured Margaret Meacham, a Maryland young adult author. Representatives from the Maryland General Assembly and the Maryland State Department of Education were also present.

John, 9, also was chosen as a finalist this school year in writing contests sponsored by the Washington County Reading Council and Funkstown American Legion.

He is the son of Albert and Kelli Strauss of Keedysville.

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