Letters About Literature

The annual Letters About Literature competition encourages students in grades 4-12 to read a book, poem, or speech and write to that author (living or dead) about how the book affected them. Sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, Letters About Literature provides a creative way for students to engage with books while also providing teachers a method for incorporating the contest into classroom curriculum.

2016-2017 Guidelines and Entry Form (pdf) to download and print

Teacher’s Guide (pdf) with tips for connecting Letters About Literature to curriculum

Helpful tips on reflective writing, for teachers (pdf)

Submissions by students in Levels 1 and 2 (elementary and middle school) will be due by Monday, January 9, 2017. Students in Level 3 (high school) have a deadline of Friday, December 2, 2016.

Letters About Literature is sponsored nationally by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and is organized in Virginia by the Virginia Center for the Book.


Who is eligible?

Any student throughout Virginia in grades 4-12 enrolled in public or private schools or home schooled. Students may enter independently or through a school or library.

Guidelines and application forms will be posted here, upon availability.

How many winners will there be?

At the state level, independent judges select three state winners, one each at Level I (grades 4, 5, 6); Level II (grades 7, 8); and Level III (grades 9, 10, 11, 12).  We also award Honorable Mentions.

What do the winners receive?

The three state winners in Virginia will receive $100 cash, a book donated in their honor to their school or local library, and advance to national judging. In addition, they are invited to be a guest author at the March Opening Ceremony of the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville.

How are the letters judged?

In Virginia, independent judges review letters submitted by Virginia students, with student information removed. Winning letters and honorable mention letters are announced here in late March/early April.

At the national level, a Center for the Book in the Library of Congress panel review the top letters from all participating states, with announcements usually in May at the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress website.

The Virginia Center for the Book is a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Note to Teachers and Parents

Letters About Literature supports national standards for teaching language arts and reading as recommended by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.