Letters About Literature

Center for the BOOK OH AffiliateWelcome, friends, to the homepage of Ohio’s own Letters About Literature program, part of a national reading and writing promotional program for children and young adults.

Have you ever been personally impacted by the power of literature? Have you encountered a book, poem or speech that was so compelling as to have kindled a greater awareness and understanding of your inner psyche? Have the printed words of someone from a different background or viewpoint opened an entirely new world before your view? If literature has made such an impact in your life we encourage you to avail yourself of this website’s resources.

You may ask, specifically, what the Letters About Literature program happens to be all about? Sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the program is an annual national contest in which students in grades 4 through 12 are invited to write heartfelt, reflective letters to authors (living or dead) of their choosing. They may select a work of fiction (any genre), short story, poem, or a work of nonfiction such as such as biography, true story, essay or speech (sorry, no song lyrics).

Students—in their own, unique literary voices—must elucidate to their selected authors the following: the particular concepts, thoughts or ideas that they had encountered in their respective author’s book that served as a positive catalyst in their personal lives, their subsequent application of those concepts in real-life situations and the ultimate result.

In and of itself, the Letters About Literature (LAL) contest accomplishes the following objectives: the promotion of reading and writing skills, the inspiration of creativity and the encouragement to read. However, an equally if not more important result of participation in the program is the students’ exercise of self-awareness.

  • Contest theme: Write a personal letter to an author whose work changed your view of the world or yourself.   State centers may elaborate on this theme.
  • National Awards: A panel of national judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select 1 (one) National Winner per competition level to receive a $1,000 cash award. The judges will also select 1 (one) National Honor winner per competition level to receive a $200 cash award.
  • Ohio Center for the Book Awards: In the three levels , first place winners receive a $100.00 cash award, second place winners receive a $75.00 cash awards, and third pace winners receive a $50.00 cash award.  All winners and semi-finalist receive a LAL backpack and selection of age-appropriate books and are invited to a luncheon and awards ceremony.
  • 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.

To view rules and guidelines for 2016-2017 submission as well as contest deadlines click here.

Download Teachers’ Activities Guides and Common Core documents.

View images of past Letters About Literature Ceremonies: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016