Letters About Literature

Ohio students in Grades 4-12 are invited to participate in the Letters About Literature writing contest.

Letters About Literature is a national reflective writing contest sponsored by the Library of Congress Center for the Book and presented, in Ohio, in partnership with the Ohio Center for the Book@ Cleveland Public Library. Funding has been provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Students are asked to write a personal, heartfelt letter to an author.  Students may select authors, living or dead, from any genre—fiction (short story, novel, poem) or nonfiction (autobiography, memoir, biography)—that is contemporary or classic. They are to describe what the author’s words meant to them and how they came to view themselves and their environment differently. Rather than a book report or a fan letter, letters are to be considered more of a private conversation with the author. Authors do care, are interested, and want to know if they’ve made a difference.

Here are the program basics for 2018-2019

  • The contest runs from now till midnight of Friday, January 11, 2019.

Level 1: Students within Grades 4, 5 and 6

Level 2: Students within Grades 7 and 8

Level 3: Students within Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12

  • The program’s official website is http://www.read.gov/letters. To help expedite the submission process, the staff of the Library of Congress Center for the Book have added an online submission platform. Students and teachers can upload Word copies of their entries or copy and paste the text into the space that will be provided. Considering that this change is new, we will still accept handwritten entries but strongly encourage those students with Word proficiency and internet access to upload their entries. Entries—and accompanying documentation (i.e. entry coupons, permission slips)—can still be mailed to me at the Literature Department of the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.
  • Whether typed or handwritten, letters (i.e. entries) should be under 500 words and not exceed two pages (one side). Students are encouraged to save a personal copy of their entries which they can access later.


  • A video walkthrough of the online submission process for students, teachers and parents is embedded in the instructions section of each online submission form and is also available at this link: https://youtu.be/DEjkwyfTPY4.
  • *Students and teachers mailing entries: Along with their letters, students need to include a completed two page Entry Coupon which is available online. It can be accessed by:
  • Logging onto http://www.read.gov/letters/
  • Selecting Ohio from the “For deadlines, online submission forms and more information, select your state” drop-down menu
  • Clicking the Go button, and
  • Clicking on entry coupon

If possible, do not print double-sided

  • Entries and accompanying forms are to be mailed in a self-addressed stamped envelope to the following address:

  Cleveland Public Library/Main Branch

  Literature Dept. c/o Tim Phillips

  325 Superior Ave., N.E.
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

  • **Students who are 13-years-of-age or younger are now required to have a parent or guardian fill out, sign, scan and upload/mail a copy of a Permission Slip accessible from the Letters About Literature website. Entries submitted by students who are13-years-of-age or under cannot be registered without permission slips. The form can be found online on the Letters About Literature website, under the heading 2018-2019 Documents in the center of the page.
  • Teachers are welcome to sponsor multiple students but they are asked to refrain from having an entire class write about the same, particular book.


  • State level

A First, Second, and Third Place winner as well as four Honorable Finalists from each of the three competition levels will be selected. First Place winners will receive $100; Second Place winners $75, and Third Place winners $50. In addition, they, along with the four Honorable Finalists, will receive age-appropriate books. Winners and finalists will have their letters included in a special commemorative booklet and will be invited, along with their families and friends, to a special awards ceremony and luncheon to be held at the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library on Saturday, May 11, 2019.

We greatly appreciate your patience with the changes to the competition this year and look forward to hearing from Ohio students about the books that affected them.