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Avid readers on target in essay contest

Gus Farnell and Kyla Rigg, avid readers in Eric Danielson's fifth-grade class at Helen Haller Elementary, have been named semi-finalists for the Letters About Literature contest.

More than 2,000 Washington students entered the contest at the fourth- to sixth-grade levels. Farnell and Rigg placed in the top 167.

The contest has students write an essay about their favorite author. Rigg chose Judy Blume after reading "Superfudge." Farnell chose Rick Riordan, author of "The Lightning Thief" and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, an updated fantasy/adventure based on Greek myths.

Since the two finished their essays around Christmas, Farnell read about five books on Greek mythology and did research on the Internet, and Rigg made a checklist of Blume's books and read through them.

The students just learned about their semi-finalist standings via letters.

"I didn't think I'd make it this far," Rigg said.

Danielson said no one from his class or in the school had placed this high before.

"Between the two, they've read thousands of pages this year," Danielson said.

Farnell and Rigg are accelerated readers, so Danielson has them on independent reading contracts where they read books and write letters to him about the content.

Letters About Literature is sponsored by the Washington State Library, Office of the Secretary of State, as part of the Washington Reads program. Letters About Literature also is sponsored by The Center for the Book, Library of Congress and Target stores.

The grand prize winner in each division wins a $500 gift card to Target and $10,000 for their school or community library.

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