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Letters About Literature National Winners 2011

National Honor Winner, Level 1: Nicholas Behrens, MN

Dear Debra Frasier,

Each and every living thing in the universe is unique and spectacular! Each and every plant, animal, and person is connected to another and has an important place and purpose! Each and every day of my life, I see this in the green Earth around me and feel it deep down in my soul. Please know, Ms. Frasier, that these valuable and treasured messages I first learned and experienced from you! And, from my parents who told me the story in your beautiful book On the Day You Were Born on March 29, 1999, the day I was welcomed to this “spinning world”!

Your warm words and vivid pictures were my very first gift! All bundled up in a blanket, I soaked them in as my dad read to me and rocked me on the evening after my birth. (Although I don’t remember it, a priceless photograph tells me of this moment.) When I travel all the way back to my beginning memories, I can capture your book. I think of my family and friends circled around me, reading it “with voices familiar and clear” at my birthday gatherings. How thrilled I was to celebrate my third birthday with a brand new big kid bed and my grandparents at my side to tuck me in that night! Their loving voices brought alive all of the colorful creatures, the “burning sun”, the “quiet glowing moon”, and the “glittering silver stars” as they shared your story. When I was still very small, On the Day You Were Born gave me a connection with others who would become the most important people in my life!

Long before I could read, Ms. Frasier, I knew your verses by heart, hearing them in my mind at the turn of each page. They helped me learn to love words that feel like a song! They provide joy, delight, comfort, and reassurance each time I touch them, because they have become a part of me. Before I could walk, I traveled to far away places and discovered the beauty and science of the Earth in your book. It helped me learn to love nature! Later, when I actually journeyed to a “forest of tall trees” and a “rising tide washing beaches clean for my footprints”, your story came to life for me once again. I saw the wonder of the world at work! When I was still somewhat small, On the Day You Were Born showed me an intricate and grand universe beyond myself and my home.

Now, I am not so small anymore! I still feel the marvel of your magical book when my mom, dad, and brother Nathan read it to me! Lately, however, I have found even more happiness reading it to others. My most special recent memory of On the Day You Were Born is when I read “Welcome to the spinning world! We are so glad you’ve come!” to my Grandma on her last birthday, a week after mine, before she died. I know within my heart that we are all meant to be on this planet together, to take care of this place and one another. Thank you, Ms. Frasier, for giving your beautiful book to the world and to me!

Nicholas Behrens