Letters About Literature

About the Contest

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Students are asked to read a book, poem or speech and write to the author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. If you are in grades 4-12, you are eligible to enter the Letters About Literature reading and writing contest.

The 2015-2016 Letters About Literature contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations.

The colorful envelopes we receive containing Letters About Literature entries have become a treat for us at the Library of Congress. Here are a few favorites from past years.

Information for Students and Teachers

If you are in grades 4-12, you are eligible to enter the Letters About Literature reading and writing contest. You do not have to enter through a class. You can enter on your own. Here are the Guidelines and Entry Coupon:

The Letters About Literature Teaching Guide provides activities teachers can use to guide their students through the book discussion and letter-writing process. The guide addresses the LAL teaching strategies and ways in which the program can dovetail with curriculum for teaching reading and writing. Also included are worksheets for duplication and assessment checklists.

2015 Winners

More than 1 million students have participated in the Library of Congress Letters About Literature Contest. Is there a favorite book or poem that changed your life? Why not write to the author and tell him or her just how important it was? Get some inspiration from the 2015 winners here.

Library Literacy Awards: Book Fest 14

Title: Library of Congress Literacy Awards: 2014 National Book Festival

Speaker: James Billington, David Rubenstein
Event Date: 2014/08/30
Running Time: 47 minutes
Treanscript: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)

Library of Congress Literacy Awards are presented at the 2014 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

Dear Rudyard Kipling,

...A couple of months after my mother’s death, I wandered up the cold creaky stairs that led into the attic and shuffled through some books and found a large one that was filled with poetry. In this book, I found “If.” As I read the poem, the words printed in black ink seemed to turn to golden truths and values that burned deep into my brain and trickled down to my heart...

Joshua Tiprigan
North Valley Regional High School
Old Tappan, NJ
2014 National Winner

November 2
Opening date for submitting letters

December 4
Level 3 (Grades 9-12) entry deadline

January 11
Level 1 (Grades 4-6) and Level 2 (7-8) entry deadline

Announcement of winners

Events across the country for presentation of prizes