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Letters About Literature National Winners 2012

National Winner, Level 2: Abbie Beaver, Hot Springs, AR

Dear Mr. Orwell,

I am thirteen years old and in the eighth grade.I like playing sports, listening to music, hanging out with friends and reading.I think my passion for reading comes from my mother.She always has a book by her side and her knowledge of events and books is so broad that she amazes me.Until this year she has allowed me to read books that interested me, which were mostly fantasy, fiction, and mythology.However, now she has advised me to stretch my reading and challenge myself to read books I might not like.One of those books was Animal Farm.She said it was a political book and my first thought was, "Oh great this ought to be good and boring."To my surprise it was a great inspiration to me – not boring at all, and because of your book I went on to read Martin Luther King's speech, I Have a Dream and then The Diary of Anne Frank.

I feel the most significant impact your book has had on my life was to make me question whether mankind has learned anything from the misery we have caused others.I look around my school and still see how social classification holds people down.I know you are probably saying, "Middle school politics; how childish?" but it is at this age, where acceptance for who we are, is so important.Our confidence depends on it.This is the time in our lives that we are either built up or put down, accepted or rejected, praised or ignored.

I wonder how this social system came about in school where we are all supposed to be friends.Yet, we have our Napoleon and Snowball always wanting to run everything their way.Then there are always the Bluebells, Jessies, and Pinchers making sure Napoleon and Snowball get their way by keeping everyone else down.I see the cheerleaders and jocks get by with more, the GT kids are expected to be perfect, and the students that march to their own drum are made fun of for being different.I want to know why some people feel superior to others just because they might have more money, be a little smarter, have a different heritage, or be blessed not to have any handicaps.Social classification of students and making them feel inferior has to stop.As students, did we not learn anything from the Columbine High School shootings?Apparently not.

After reading Animal Farm, I started looking at myself and I really didn't like what I saw.I was one of those who allowed others to pigeon hole me into a group when in reality they didn't know me at all.They didn't really know what interested me, what hurt me, or what I cared about, because I never let them in for fear of rejection.I walked around guarded, fitting in with who I was with at the time.Now I realize that I allowed myself to be a victim.If I want social classification to stop, it has to start with me.

I challenge myself to join clubs that aren't popular, but that I like.I will become active in things I don't excel in and let my voice be heard whether it is politically correct or not.I will not be afraid for people to see me fail and, above all, I will have the confidence to laugh at my own mistakes.I plan to continue to accept people for who they are and hope everyone sees each other's value as golden.

I want to thank you and my mother for inspiring me to read more insightful and controversial books.However, I will continue to read my fiction and mythology but with a keen eye for the underlying theme.After all, variety is the spice of life.

Abbie Beaver