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Letters About Literature National Winners 2003

National Winner, Level 1: Gideon Bender

Dear Ms. Lowry,

There are many times that I never even think about all the decisions I make during a single day what will I wear to school, what will I eat for lunch, how will I spend my free time, what book will I read, and on and on. Some of these decisions are more important and more difficult to make than others, but all of them are mine and all of them impact how I live my life.

My mom has a friend from rural Nepal who once told me that when she visits the United States she needs to get her head ready because there are so many decisions to make while she is here, unlike her more simple life in Nepal. I did not understand what she meant until I read The Giver.

As I took the journey with Jonas, I began to understand that having choices helps to define us as individuals. As an American, I have the freedom to choose how I live my life; freedom that many others in the world do not enjoy. We are a nation made up of all kinds of people making all kinds of decisions, and although we do not always agree with each other, our differences and choices make us unique.

Jonas taught me that moving forward is the important thing, that regret will kill your spirit. We can't change decisions and, anyway, the experiences have already changed us. They are our memories.

As I continue down the roads of my life, I know I will not always remember the importance of having opportunities and challenges. However, I do know that when I face especially difficult or wonderful choices, I will remember that the decisions Jonas made empowered him to determine is own future. And I will do the same.

Thank you for the gift of yours words.

Gideon Bender, Grade 5

What the Judges Had to Say About Gideon's Letter

Gideon's letter was thought-provoking and showed that he put a lot of thought into his piece. Also, another strong ending. (John Micklos, Editor, Reading Today, the International Reading Association)

I like that he begins with specifics all those decisions a kid his age has to make daily. Although Gideon doesn't mention the book title or even that it changed him until the end of the second paragraph, he does so in an interesting way by relating something personal about himself what his mother's friend told him about life in Nepal versus life in America. This is a very sophisticated essay for one so young. He is able to weave together his personal experiences with themes in The Giver and does so in a create way. The real punch is the last line of the fifth paragraph I will do the same. Simple yet convincing. (Catherine Gourley, National Director, LAL Reading Promotion Program)