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.

2016 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 2016 winners here.

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.

Library Literacy Awards: Book Fest 15

Title:Letters About Literature / A Book That Shaped Me Awards: 2015 National Book Festival

Speaker: Walter Isaacson
Event Date: 2015/09/05
Running Time: 39 minutes
Treanscript: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)

Kids read their award-winning entries in these two Library of Congress reading contests at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Letters About Literature asks kids to read a book and write to the author about how that book affected their lives. A Book That Shaped Me Summer Writing Contest is administered as part of summer reading programs at participating area public libraries. Top winners present their essays.

Dear Mr. Gipson:

...I got comfy in my reading nook and started to read. I faded into a zone. I was not in the attic, I was in the forest with Travis and Old Yeller hunting gobbler. I was saving Little Arliss from the she bear. Then, my own life started to replay in the book. Max and Old Yeller became the same dog. As I read on, I relived my sorrow. When I exited the book, I lay there, thinking. I felt different, like the pieces of my heart finally coming together. . . . I saw Max's death in different way. I still miss Max, but now it's different."...

Ellie Sanders
Lafayette Elementary School
Washington, DC
2016 National Honor Award Winner – Level 1

June 2
Announce National Contest Winners

June 17
Teacher Feedback Survey Deadline

September 12
Launch 2016-2017 Contest and Announce Entry Deadlines

September 24
Celebrate the 2015-2016 program at the National Book Festival

December 2
Entry Deadline for Level 3 (Grades 9-12)

January 9
Entry Deadline for Level 1 (Grades 4-6)
Entry Deadline for Level 2 (Grades 7-8)