JP’s Maya Johnson Honored in 2023 Letters About Literature for Letter to ‘The Hate U Give’ Author

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A Jamaica Plain teenager was honored by the Massachusetts Center for the Book 2023 Top Honor student writers for its Letters About Literature program.

This Commonwealth-wide reading and writing initiative invites students from Grades 4 to 12 to write letters to authors about the books that have had special meaning to them.

Jamaica Plain resident Maya Johnson, junior at Melrose High School, earned Honors in Level 3 for her letter to Angie Thomas about The Hate U Give.

Fifteen honorees, representing the top 1.5% of this year’s program submissions, were celebrated at a virtual awards celebration on May 17.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Massachusetts author Alexandra Marshall commended the students on their work and also told them, as a writer, how important it is for authors to hear from readers, because authors write “with the wish to be read.”

"As a student of color in a predominately white school, the opportunity to read and access literature that reflects Maya's experience is powerful," said state Rep. Samantha Montaño (15th-D Suffolk) during the awards. "As demonstrated in the letter she wrote to the author, Maya sees herself as larger than the experience she has now and knows there is community for times when she may feel isolated. Maya's letter is a powerful statement on the importance of diverse literature."

The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the
Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership focused on developing, supporting and promoting cultural programming that advances the cause of books and reading and enhances the outreach potential of Massachusetts public libraries.