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logo for Letters About Literature

A national reading and writing promotion program, sponsored in cooperation with Affiliate, State Centers for the Book

See the most recent Winners from Oklahoma.    Click here for the most recent National Winners.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, in cooperation with Affiliate State Centers for the Book, invites readers in grades 4 through 10 to enter Letters About Literature, a national reading-writing contest.

image of OK Letters About Literature postcardTo enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre—fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic, explaining how that author's work changed the student's way of thinking about the world or themselves. The letters we receive are windows of understanding what young people think about, hope for, and fear. They are friendly and conversational, sometimes funny and sometimes painfully honest.

There are three competition levels: Level I for children in grades 4 through 6; Level II for grades 7 and 8, and Level III, grades 9–10. Winners, announced in the spring of each year, receive cash awards at the national and state levels. Level III deadline — entries must be postmarked by December 4, 2015; Levels I & II deadline — entries must be postmarked January 11, 2016.

Some examples: for Paul, a middle school student in Colorado, Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic as recounted in The Spirit of St. Louis helped him to rise above depression. For Lucas, a high school student in North Dakota, deliverance from drugs came after reading Jim Carroll’s Basketball Diaries. Kristiana Gregory’s description of Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII, Daughter of the Nile) rolling herself in a rug in order to meet the Roman emperor Julius Caesar seemed a little foolish to nine-year-old Analyssa from Illinois. She wrote to the author, “Why would you roll yourself in a rug when you could just go up and talk to him?”

The contest usually begins in September. Submission deadline for all levels is in January of the following year. All state winners will be notified in March. National winners will be contacted in April.

Official rules are here.    Get Oklahoma's most recent prospectus postcard (pdf).

Some tips: Do not summarize the book’s plot. After all, the author wrote the book and already knows what happened. What the author doesn’t know is how the book affected you. Don’t write a fan letter—instead of trying to impress, express yourself honestly. Just tell the author how his or her work somehow made a difference in your life.

For more information go to www.lettersaboutliterature.org or view the Letters About Literature Guidelines and Entry Coupon(pdf).


Oklahoma Center for the BookThe Center for the Book in the Library of Congress

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