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Sixth grade Grinspoon Academy student Hanna Sylvia Bacon was presented a State House citation by state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa after being recognized for her letter written to author Sharon M. Draper.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

NORTHAMPTON — A sixth grade Lander Grinspoon Academy student was honored on May 21 at the State House in the 24th annual Massachusetts Letters About Literature ceremony.

The program, which is run by the Massachusetts Center for the Book in Northampton, is a reading and writing initiative that invites students from grades 4-12 to write letters to authors about the books that have resonated with them.

At this year’s ceremony, Hanna Sylvia Bacon of Northampton received Honorable Mention (Level 1) for her letter to Sharon M. Draper about her 2018 novel, “Blended,” a story that follows the experiences of Isabella, a precocious 11-year-old girl who must navigate the societal challenges of being biracial while grappling with her struggles of belonging.

Josee Goldin, Sylvia Bacon’s mother, expressed jubilation for seeing her daughter recognized for the letter she sent to Draper.

“I am immensely proud; words can’t express,” Goldin told Reminder Publishing. “To see her be recognized for her hard work and to hear and see other kids read their essays and be recognized was a wonderful experience. It felt like a really positive day.”

Goldin noted how Sylvia Bacon likes reading, especially graphic novels, but she enjoys dancing and staying active above all else. Draper’s book, however, really inspired and spoke to her daughter, according to Goldin, especially since, much like Isabel in the book, Sylvia Bacon’s parents are different races.

“I had never read a book that reflected my life like that,” Sylvia Bacon said. “It made me feel represented.”
Goldin added that her daughter was also inspired to write this letter because of her sixth-grade teacher Becky Lederman.

“Hanna has loved this year at school and it’s all due to the wonderfulness of Becky,” Goldin said.

For the achievement, Sylvia Bacon was presented with State House citations by state Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) and state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (D-Northampton).

Sabadosa provided a legislative welcome during the ceremony and read Sylvia Bacon’s letter.

“Hanna’s letter to author Sharon Draper about her novel, ‘Blended,’ was an eloquent, beautifully written missive, leaving no doubt that Hanna is a gifted writer who is able to express nuanced and complex thoughts with clarity,” Sabadosa said on her Facebook page. “I cannot wait to see what Hanna will write next.”

Goldin reflected Sabadosa’s thoughts about the essay.

“She worked very hard on her essay to make it say what she wanted it to,” Goldin said.

The awards at the ceremony were presented by the 2024 commonwealth judges: Massachusetts children’s book author Josh Funk, Worcester Public Library Tween Services Librarian Alicia Rogers and Betsy Groban of Cambridge, a journalist, former publishing executive and author. They were supported by a team of screeners from the Simmons University School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Smith College.

Founded in 2000, the Massachusetts Center for the Book is the commonwealth affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. MCB is charged with developing, supporting and promoting cultural programming to advance the cause of books, reading and libraries across Massachusetts.

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