Letters About Literature

25th Annual Writing Competition

Center for the Book in the Library of Congress logo

Read. Be Inspired. Write Back.

Polish up your reflective writing skills and write a letter to an author – living or dead – explaining how his or her work changed your view of yourself or your world.

Enter One of Three Competition Levels:
Level 1: Grades 4, 5 and 6
Level 2: Grades 7 and 8
Level 3: Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12  

Deadline (all competition levels): January 12, 2018

How To Enter In 10 Easy Steps
  1. Select a book that you have read and about which you have strong feelings.
  2. Imagine sitting down with the author of this work and sharing your personal thoughts. Your letter should be personal and sincere, more like a private conversation rather than a book report or fan letter.
  3. Share specific details both about the book and about your reaction to the book.
  4. Keep in mind that this is a reflective writing contest and that means you need to think about what you read and the meaning you gleaned from the author’s words.
  5. Type your entry.
  6. Complete the entry coupon and staple it to your entry.
  7. Enclose the letter in a large, flat envelope 8’ x 10” (or larger). Please do not use letter-sized envelopes. Teacher’s note: please mail class sets in one large envelope.  
  8. Indicate the competition level on the envelope – Level 1, or Level 2 or Level 3 – depending on your grade. If you are submitting for more than one level, use a separate envelope for each level.
  9. Mail your entry to: Letters About Literature Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, D.C 20540-4921
  10. Download participation certificate at read.gov/letters (available November 1, 2017). 
​Letters About Literature is a reflective writing competition sponsored by the Library of Congress Center for the Book and presented in association with affiliate State Centers for the Book with funding provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Teachers: Please go to read.gov/letters to review the online teacher’s resource page for specific tips and to download the free Teacher’s Guide. Teachers should submit class sets in one envelope rather than submitting letters individually in single envelopes.


Assessment
All entries will be judged on the following criteria: 

Round 1:

Audience. Is the essay in letter format and does it address the work of the author? Entries that are not in letter format and are written about the author, rather than to the author will be eliminated.

Purpose. Does the essay address the contest theme of how an author's work changed the reader's view of self or the world? Is personal reflection evident in the letter? Entries that are book summaries or fan letters will be eliminated.

​Round 2:

Grammatical Conventions. Is the essay written in a clear and organized way with specific details to support the essay's main ideas? Single paragraph letters with significant grammatical errors will be eliminated.

Originality. Does the essay express ideas creatively, communicating a unique or powerful point of view? Letters that are formulaic without evidence of a writer's voice will be eliminated.


Letters that meet these criteria advance to state level judging. 

Judges selected by affiliate Centers for the Book choose the top letters in each competition level for their state and coordinate recognition ceremonies and awards. The first-place state-level winners advance to the national level judging.

Awards

Each state recognizes and awards prizes to winning participants. The Library of Congress will announce all National and National Honor Winners and awards and will list all state-level winners on its website.  

    • National Winners in each competition level will receive a $1,000 cash award
    • National Honor Winners in each competition level will receive a $200 cash award

Check read.gov/letters for details on state awards and ceremonies. 


How To Submit Your Letters And Entry Coupon
Entry Coupon: Each letter must be accompanied by an entry coupon. Staple the coupon to the last page of the letter. Affiliate Centers for the Book will contact State Winners using this information, so be sure entry coupons are complete and legible! Letters without a coupon will be eliminated.

Class Set of Letter: Teachers must submit their name and contact information with a list of the names of each student submitting a letter. This list does not take the place of entry coupons. Each student's letter must have its own entry coupon. Mail class sets in a flat envelope, 8" x 10" or larger.

Ownership: All letters become the property of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Please keep a copy of your entries, as no letters will be returned.

Mailing Address: Letters About Literature Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, D.C 20540-4921


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