Valuable prizes await top young spellers April 8 in the Deseret News Spelling Bee.

Forty of the Beehive State's best spellers, representing public, private and parochial districts, meet in Salt Lake City to determine the representative to the National Spelling Bee next month. The competition begins at 9 a.m. in Clayton Intermediate School, 1471 S. 19th East.The annual spelling program, now in its 12th year, is sponsored in cooperation with the State Office of Education, State PTA and Utah Education Association.

The winning speller and one parent will be guests of the Deseret News May 29-June 4 in Washington, D.C., where they will visit historic sites in and around the nation's capital. The Utah winner will compete in spelling during two days of Bee Week.

The second-place winner will receive a 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica, which features the redesigned and revised format that first appeared in 1985. The prize features the 12-volume Micropaedia, containing 84,300 alphabetically ordered entries; the 17-volume Macropaedia, with 681 articles and 6,000 illustrations; and the one-volume Propaedia, which has 15,000 topics and 31,800 titles for suggested reading. The set includes a two-volume general index. In addition, the winner receives the Britannica World Data Annual, with the Book of the Year and World Data included.

The unabridged second edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language will be presented to the third-place winner. Published by Random House, it is the first completely new unabridged dictionary published in 21 years, with more than 315,000 entries. Major entries show when words were first entered into the language, and tens of thousands of biographical and geographical entries are included, plus more than 2,500 illustrations and spot maps.

Fourth prize is Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, with more than 150,000 vocabulary entries, including 200,000 definitions, 25,000 new words and 3,000 illustrations.

Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus, featuring more than 100,000 synonyms, antonyms, related and contrasted words, and idiomatic equivalents will be awarded to the fifth-place winner. Both are from Merriam-Webster Inc.

A special spelling bee edition of the 1988 World Almanac of up-to-date information on a variety of subjects will be presented to the sixth-place winner.