Painting by Diana D. Dunn, 2019
Back row (L to R): Norah Ryan, Charlotte Bodin, Axel de Boer, Magnolia Rice
Front Row (L to R): India Danyow, Allegra de Boer, Katherine LeVine
The Vermont Letters about Literature winners were honored at a ceremony at the State House in Montpelier on Friday, May 31.
The Letters about Literature (LAL) writing contest, now in its 26th year, is sponsored by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Vermont Department of Libraries receives support from the Library of Congress to facilitate the Vermont state competition.
The LAL writing contest, which opens in the fall, asks students in grades 4-12 to write a letter to an author (living or dead) of a book, short story, poem, essay, or speech that changed their view of themselves or the world. These letters are meant to be deeply reflective and illustrate just how the author’s work had a personal impact on the letter-writer. Past winners have written to authors as diverse as Dave Ramsey of The Total Money Makeover to Anne Frank of her Diary of a Young Girl. Our Vermont students are living a multitude of vibrant, and often challenging, lives, and every genre or type of work has the potential to strike a chord.
This year, the guidelines for letters were more stringent. Letters had to be between 400 and 800 words and follow a very specific format. This year was also the first year that students or their teachers could upload their letters onto a web platform to expedite the judging process. Despite these changes, Vermont students submitted 138 letters to the Library of Congress for initial round 1 judging. Of those letters, 112 met the criteria for entry into round 2, which is our Vermont state competition.
Letters are divided into three different levels of judging: level 1 (grades 4-6) level 2 (grades 7-8) and level 3 (grades 9-12.) VTLIB employees read all 112 round 2 letters and judged them according to the same rubric. First place winners were entered in the national Letters about Literature competition, competing against other state winners from all of the country. National winners receive a cash prize and are honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. We expect those results very soon, so stay tuned.
- Level 1 winner: India Danyow, a sixth grader from the Bridge School in Middlebury who hails from Brandon. India wrote a letter to Robie H. Harris, author of the book It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health.
Watch India Read Her Letter *coming soon*
- Level 2 winner: Katherine LeVine, a seventh grader from The Dorset School in East Dorset. She wrote a letter to Jerry Spinelli about his book Stargirl.
Watch Katherine Read Her Letter *coming soon*
- Level 3 winner: Charlotte Bodin of Middlesex, an eleventh grader from U-32 High School in Montpelier. She wrote a letter to Madeline Miller about her book The Song of Achilles.
Watch Charlotte Read Her Letter *coming soon*
- Second place for Level 1- Allegra de Boer, Bridge School, Middlebury, who wrote to Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo about their book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women
- Second place for Level 3- Magnolia Rice, Woodstock Union High School, Woodstock, who wrote to Julie Murphy about her book Puddin'
- Third place for Level 1- Axel de Boer, Bridge School, Middlebury, who wrote to Tamora Pierce about her book The First Test
- Third place for Level 3 – Norah Ryan, U-32 High School, Montpelier, who wrote to Margaret Atwood about her book Cat's Eye
Please see the note below from the Office of the State Librarian. If further information is needed, please contact Jennifer Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will direct your inquiry to the appropriate person.
For Immediate Release
Friday, May 10, 2019
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE STATE LIBRARIAN:
NEW NAME FOR DOROTHY CANFIELD FISHER BOOK AWARD TO BE SELECTED BY VERMONT YOUTH
Barre, Vt. – After more than a year of deliberation, the Vermont Department of Libraries announced on May 3 that the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award will be renamed in 2020. This announcement came at the beginning of the 2019 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Conference, held at the Vermont Department of Libraries in Barre.
State Librarian Jason Broughton made the decision to change the award’s name based on a January 2018 recommendation from the Board of Libraries. The board acted after taking testimony recommending a name change to address contemporary issues affecting promotion of the program. It also heard concerns about Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Vermont’s eugenics movement.
Broughton noted, “This is not an easy choice, with strong feelings both for and against a name change.” Feedback from Vermonters all over the state was considered in the decision, including comments from professionals who use the award and its curriculum in their libraries and classrooms.
As an example, he went on to cite these comments from a youth librarian and an active promoter of this award: “I’d love to see a new name that revitalizes the program, gets kids excited, and that isn’t connected to a person, who, now or generations from now, will be tainted for something he or she did.”
Started in 1957, the award program has been successful in encouraging a love of reading in Vermont youth in grades 4-8. Over 2500 youth voted for the 2019 award, which requires that each student read at least five books from the list of thirty. However, it is not from familiarity with Dorothy Canfield Fisher- a stranger to today’s youth- that makes the award so successful with Vermont middle-schoolers. The well-written, insightful, and timely books that are nominated by literacy professionals, the curricula that is taught by passionate librarians and teachers, and youth’s ability to select the winner are the elements that have made it one of the oldest children’s choice book awards in the country.
While Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s name will no longer be on the award, the author will not be erased from Vermont history.
“We need to discuss ways in which Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s legacy will be remembered by the department and by Vermont youth. How do we talk about the views of someone we held up to a certain standard, but find they are human like the rest of us? What happens when certain views are no longer held by the larger society or have impacts on the mindsets of Vermonters and beyond? History can never wipe away Dorothy Canfield Fisher. We, however, can play a part in shaping our future history by proving that Vermont does do things differently by seeking consensus and moving forward on making literacy and the love of reading enjoyable, fun, and inclusive,” said Broughton.
In this vein, Broughton announced that Vermont youth will have the final say in the new name of the award.
“In being a steward of literacy, while balancing the department’s role as a state entity, we want to ensure every Vermonter is included in the future of the award and conference. As such, there will be a statewide vote by children on the new name for the award. This will have guidelines and rules on how this will be implemented to ensure we do not have awkward name or one that is not befitting of the spirit of the award.”
The 2019-2020 list of nominees, which was announced in April, will be the final list to hold Fisher’s name. The 2020-2021 list will be released in the spring of 2020, along with the new name selected by Vermont youth. It will take a year for the voting process and other administrative changes to be planned and implemented. Broughton notes that this deliberate approach has been the hallmark of the entire discussion surrounding the name change.
“It’s been a long journey to get to this point, and I’m confident that the careful discussions had amongst the award’s stakeholders has led to the best possible decision. It’s important that youth feel that the award represents them, so taking their lead is crucial. The department has been proud to support this award for the past sixty years, and I look forward to finding out what the future holds for the next sixty.”
60 Washington Street, Suite 2 | Barre, VT 05641 | libraries.vermont.gov
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2019
Contact: Kay Foley
GROW WITH GOOGLE COMING TO VERMONT
Google’s Economic Opportunity Initiative Aims to Foster Skilled Workforce of the Future in Vermont
VERMONT -- Today, Google announced that it is coming to cities in Vermont as part of the tech
company’s Grow with Google initiative to help create economic opportunity in communities across the United States. Google will kickstart this work locally by hosting free, one-day events in two libraries to help job seekers, small business owners, students, educators and entrepreneurs improve their digital skills.
Vermont tour dates, cities and locations include:
April 23 in Burlington, Fletcher Free Library
- 235 College St., Burlington, VT 05401
April 25 in Rutland, Rutland Free Library
- 10 Court St., Rutland, VT 05701
“Vermont is a center for innovation, entrepreneurship and manufacturing. By bringing the ‘Grow with Google’ tour to the state, we are making a commitment to help develop a skilled workforce that can meet the needs of Vermont’s growing economy,” said Erica Swanson, Google’s Head of Community Engagement.
In recognition that libraries are increasingly centers for digital skills learning, Grow with Google plans visit libraries in every state, partnering with them to deliver digital skills trainings directly to jobseekers and small businesses in their community. We will also train library staff and nonprofit leaders on a range of Grow with Google’s free tools and curriculum they can use on a daily basis.
Google staff will lead hands-on workshops about online marketing for small businesses, search engine optimization, email basics and coding. Attendees can also sign up for one-on-one training with Google staff, and tour demo booths to learn more about Google’s free products for learners and small businesses. Attendees are welcome to drop in for a few sessions or stay all day.
Google is partnering with community organizations like Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont,
Community College of Vermont, Fletcher Free Library, Rutland Free Library, Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, Rutland Regional Workforce Investment Board, The Generator, and Vermont Adult Learning. Following the Grow with Google event, Google will explore ongoing partnership opportunities with area organizations to help with job training and developing digital skills.
“The Fletcher Free Library has a long history of supporting community members in improving their
economic success through job assistance and technology training,” said Mary Danko, Director of the Fletcher Free Library. “We are thrilled to partner with Google and to host a Grow with Google day at the library with fabulous workshops and one-on-one consulting with Google staff. Our mission is to inform, enrich and nurture a community of lifelong learners. Grow with Google promises to be an exciting event that aligns with our mission and gives job seekers, entrepreneurs and small business owners a wonderful day of digital skills training that is sure to spark innovation and growth.”
“Grow with Google is a perfect fit with Rutland Free Library's mission to bring people, information and ideas together,”” said Randal Smathers, Director of the Rutland Free Library. “In today's connected world, digital skills are a critical and growing set of tools. Having a company with the expertise and reach of Google in our community to help small businesses and jobseekers develop those skills is a tremendous opportunity for Rutland and all of southern Vermont.”
“We are delighted to partner with Google and the other partners on this exciting initiative. It’s great to see Google investing in local communities to provide these relevant, important services,” said Gwen Pokalo, Director of the Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont. “Small business owners, startups, and job seekers alike are presented with an excellent opportunity to gain further digital skills support through the Grow with Google event.”
“As a statewide leader in delivering education and training opportunities to Vermonters, Community College of Vermont is thrilled to partner with Grow with Google to help strengthen the digital skills of our students,” said Christopher Ettori, Assistant Director of CCV-Rutland. “We share Google’s commitment to developing our workforce in order to help strengthen our communities.”
Google launched Grow with Google in October of 2017. The American initiative draws on Google’s 20-year history of building products, platforms, and services that help people and businesses grow. Through this initiative, Google aims to help everyone across America – those who make up the workforce of today and the those who will drive the workforce of tomorrow – access the best of Google’s training and tools to grow their skills, careers, and businesses.
Specifically, Grow with Google aims to help address the skills gap by preparing Americans for middle-skill jobs, positions that require some skills but not four year degrees. According to the National Middle Skills Initiative, middle skills jobs account to 49% of Vermont’s labor force. A recent study by Burning Glass and Capital One found that more than 8 in 10 middle-skill jobs (82%) require digital skills. Overall, middle-skill jobs average $20 per hour.
In their 2017 Economic Impact Report, Google announced that 10,000 businesses in Vermont generated $1.89 billion in economic activity by using Google’s search and advertising tools. The full report details Google’s economic impact state-by-state, and features the stories of businesses fueling that growth, creating job opportunities, and transforming their communities.
According to the American Library Association, nearly three-quarters of public libraries assist their patrons with job applications and interviewing skills, 90% help their patrons learn basic digital skills, and just under half provide access and assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start a business of their own.
To learn more about the free event and to register, visit g.co/GrowVermont . Space will be limited; so please register in advance.