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Letters About Literature

Letters About Literature

Letters About Literature is a national reading-writing program sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.  The Iowa Center for the Book is the Iowa sponsor.

Read the 2014 Iowa Winners letters here.

To enter, students in grades 4 through 12 write a letter to an author explaining how that author’s work changed their way of thinking about the world or themselves.  Readers respond to the work they have read by exploring the personal relationship between themselves, the author, and the book's characters or themes.

Letters can be written about works from any genre, fiction or nonfiction by authors from the present or the past.  Students can write about a book, short story, poem, or speech.  But no matter what the subject of the work is, the letter should show the impact it had on the student.

There are three competition levels:

  • Level 1 for students in grades 4 through 6
  • Level 2 for students in grades 7 and 8
  • Level 3 for students in grades 9 through 12.

All letters are submitted to the national Letters About Literature office.  Letters from all participating states are read by national judges. Semifinalists' letters are returned to the state sponsors.  In Iowa, a panel of judges for each competition level reads the semifinalists' letters and chooses first, second, and third place winners and three honorable mentions.

Entries must be submitted to the national office according to a rolling deadline with Level 3 entries due in late December and Levels 1 and 2 due in early January.  Iowa winners are announced in April; national winners are announced in May.

Iowa first place winners win a $75.00 cash prize. Second and third place winners win a $50.00 cash prize. All Honorable Mention winners win a $25.00 cash.

A panel of national judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select one National Winner per competition level to receive a $1,000 cash award. The judges will also select one National Honor per competition level to receive a $200 cash award.

Ownership/copyright: All entries become the property of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Center for the Book in the Library of Congress: The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established by public law in 1977 to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries, as well as the scholarly study of books. Since its founding, the Center has established affiliate centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Center also places special emphasis on young readers through reading and writing contests, the Read.gov website and the new Young Readers Center in the Thomas Jefferson Building on Capitol Hill.


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