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Letters About Literature National Winners 2007

National Winner, Level 2: Jordan Slisher

Dear J. K. Rowling,

In the seventh grade I was the worst reader in the school. Knowing this made me depressed and sick to my stomach. One day I overheard my friends talking about your books. I tried to join in the conversation but with a snobbish look they turned away from me because they also knew I was the worst reader in the school. I was heartbroken knowing they didn't think I could discuss your books seriously. I decided I wanted to read the Harry Potter books so I could have something to talk about with my friends. But there was just one problem -- I was a terrible reader.

When I was five years old, my brother accidentally hit me in the eye with a slingshot. This was around the time when most students learn to read. But I was having a lot of trouble learning because of my eye. Three years later when I was in the third grade still struggling with reading, the doctors discovered I had a detached retina. Four surgeries later, I still continued to have trouble reading. I became known as the worst reader in the school and was placed in a special education class because of my disability.

My friends used to make fun of me because of my disability until your book came along in my life. I felt as helpless as Harry did when Professor Snape ridiculed him. I had had enough of them teasing me so when I heard them discussing the Harry Potter series I took off running to the library. I grabbed your book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone off the shelf. When I started to read it, I was intimidated by it because it was so thick. I was used to reading books as thin as the Dr. Seuss books. A weird feeling came over me when I finished the first chapter. Excitement Harry's magical powers entertained me when he enabled the snake to crawl out from its cage, making me excited about finding out what other tricks Harry had up his sleeve. But the book got even better. There was so much that kept my interest -- fluffy the three-headed dog, the fat lade in the portrait guarding Gryffindor's dorm, and the mouth-watering feasts served in the great hall at Hogwarts. This book made me feel many emotions as I read. I laughed when Ron looked in the Mirror of Erised and saw himself surrounded by gold. I became nervous when Ron sacrificed himself in the game of Chess while Harry went to save the Sorcerer's Stone. I felt satisfied when Harry temporarily defeated Lord Voldemort, but uneasy that Lord Voldemore escaped.

Word by word, paragraph by paragraph, it took me about a month to read. It became part of my nightly routine: eat dinner, go to my room, lock my door and read for three hours every night until I finally finished. My time along with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone became a treat for me. It was better than any dessert I could possibly eat. When I did finally finish it, I felt I could climb any mountain, swim across the Atlantic Ocean, and most importantly, ready any book I wanted to.

Since then, I have read every Harry Potter book -- twice! Not only did reading your books stop my friends from teasing me, they also gave me confidence and made me a better reader. Now I am in 8th grade in an advanced English and Language Arts class with my friends.

With many thanks,
Jordan Slisher
South Carolina