Letters About Literature

How did an author’s work change your view of the world or yourself?” – 2015-2016 Theme

Letters About Literature logo 2015

About the Contest

2016-17 School Year
OUR APOLOGIES, BUT LETTERS ABOUT LITERATURE FOR OREGON WILL NOT HAPPEN FOR THE 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR. PLEASE CHECK BACK NEXT YEAR FOR OREGON’S PARTICIPATION!

About the Contest
We invite students in grades 4 through 12 to participate in Letters About Literature, a national contest designed to promote reading and writing. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s way of thinking about the world or themselves. Entries are usually due in December or January.

The 23rd annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries, and other organizations.

There are three competition levels:

  • Level I for grades 4 through 6
  • Level II for grades 7 and 8
  • Level III for grades 9 through 12

High school students’ entries (Level III) must be postmarked by December 2, 2015 and those for students in grades 4-8 (Levels I and II) by January 9, 2016. Each letter must have a legible and signed entry form stapled to the last page. 

Oregon selects one winner at each competition level. The three winners then go on to participate nationally. Oregon’s winners are announced in April and a reception is held in their honor.

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. For information about its activities and national reading promotion networks, visit www.read.gov/cfb/.

For more information, visit the national Letters About Literature website, or contact Willamette Writers via email or call (503) 305-6729.

Prizes and Recognition

Judges and Prizes
Judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress select three national winners (one per competition level) who each receive a $1,000 cash award and three national second place winners (one per competition level) who each receive a $200 cash award.

In Oregon, local judges select one winner and one runner-up at each competition level from the entries that make it through the national screening. Judges select honorable mentions and semi-finalists at their discretion; therefore, the number varies from year to year. In 2015, Oregon had 13 honorable mentions and 105 semi-finalists. (A semi-finalist is any student who made it through the national screening but was not a winner, runner-up, or honorable mention in Oregon.) The three Oregon winners received a check for $100, three runners-up received a check for $50, honorable mentions received a $25 bookstore gift card, and semi-finalists received a $10 bookstore gift card.

National Recognition
In 2015, Hannah DesChamp, Oregon’s Level III winner, was recognized as a National Honor Award recipient. Read her letter for a fine example of how a reader can connect with a poem.

In 2012, one of the National Honor Award recipients was from Oregon. Lucia Hadella, a national Level III honor award winner, selected Phoenix High School library to receive the $1,000 grant from Target. Lucia’s letter is a great example to share with young readers interested in entering future Letters About Literature contests. You may read her letter or watch this video of her reading it aloud.

In 2011, Brecca Marvin from Vale, OR was featured on the national Letters About Literature envelope art web page. While creating artistic envelopes is not a requirement for entering this reading and writing contest, many students put a lot of their talent into it and deserve to have their hard work recognized.

In 2009, two of the National Honor Award recipients were from Oregon. Erikka Potts, a national Level II honor award winner, selected Parkrose Middle School library to receive the $1,000 grant from Target. Y Thien Hoang, a national Level III honor award winner, selected St. Mary’s Academy library to receive the $1,000 grant from Target. The letters Y and Erikka wrote are wonderful examples to share with young readers interested in entering future Letters About Literature contests.

In 2008, one of the national winners from competition Level I (4th-6th grade) was from Oregon. Hunter Hastings selected the library at Cal Young Middle School to receive the $10,000 grant from Target. Hunter’s letter is an excellent example for students thinking about entering future Letters About Literature contests. It is well-written, but most importantly, it is written straight from his heart.

Promotional Materials

Bookmarks
Letters About Literature bookmarks present information specific to state-level prizes in Oregon. Print double-sided, five bookmarks per standard 8.5 X 11 inch paper. They were developed by the Oregon Center for the Book, with official graphics from the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Stickers
Stickers provide a link to the national Letters About Literature website, and can also be used to promote the contest each year. Print on standard Avery labels, 5294 Round, 2.5 inches diameter. (Stickers may not print properly from every machine. Be sure to test one page before printing large quantities.) They were developed by the Oregon Center for the Book, with official graphics from the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Teaching Guide
Staff who coordinate Letters About Literature at the national level put together a teaching guide to help educators incorporate the program into existing instruction.