HAMMOND | Hammond Reads Inc. recently recognized the winners of its 11th annual Essay Contest at an event at Morton High School. The theme of this year's contest was, "If you could change the ending of a book, what book would it be, and how would you change it?"

Those attending were welcomed by Hammond Reads Board President Clint Turpen. The winners received plaques and a tote bag of gifts.

Categories, names of the winners, and the books they selected, are:

Primary I (Kindergarten-grade 1): Emmanuel Calix, home schooled; "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C. S. Lewis.

Primary II (grades 2 and 3): Selena Lechuga, third grade at Lafayette School; "Dolphin Tale" by Scholastic.

Intermediate (grades 4 and 5): Ani Montfort, fourth grade at Wallace School; "Because of Winn Dixie" by Kate Di Camillo.

Middle School (grades 6 to 8): Natalia Klekotko, seventh grade at St. Casimir School; "Soul Surfer" by Bethany Hamilton.

High School (grades 9 to 12): Tiara Lockwood, 10th grade at Gavit High School; "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

Adult: David Innes; Holy Bible.

Senior Adult: Margaret Kowalski; "A Singular Woman" by Janny Scott, and "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama.

"We congratulate all the winners, and we thank everyone who entered the contest," said Linda Swisher, public information coordinator at the Hammond Public Library, and chair of the Hammond Reads Essay Contest committee. "We heard from some who participated in past years that this year's theme was a challenge for them."

Certificates of participation were provided for all 1,017 people who participated in the contest, which drew entries from 13 schools.

The mission of Hammond Reads is "to build a city of readers." More information is available at www.hammondreads.com.

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