Letters About Literature

A writing contest for youth, grades 4 through 12

The Washington Center for the Book, in cooperation with The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, invites young readers in grades 4 through 12 to enter Letters About Literature, a national reading-writing contest.

To enter, students read a book and write a 400 to 800 word letter to the author (living or dead) about how the book changed their view of the world or themselves. Students may write about works of fiction, nonfiction, a short story, poem, essay, or speech.

Letter writers compete at three levels:

Level 1: Grades 4-6
Level 2: Grades 7-8
Level 3: Grades 9-12

State winners, runners up and finalists, announced in April each year, will be honored at the Letters About Literature Awards Ceremony at the State Capitol in Olympia. The top winner in each category will receive a $125 cash award and go on to the national competition at the Library of Congress.

How to Enter

(Please note that the process and parameters have changed for the 2018-2019 contest)

  • Entries must be typed and use no fewer than 400 words and no more than 800 words.
  • Entries must be submitted via the online submission platform by the deadline (midnight PST on 12/14) . The submission platform is set up to accept class or individual entries. Details may be found at the Letters About Literature website at http://read.gov/letters.
  • Students under the age of 13 (as of 11/1/18) must obtain an upload signed consent from parent/legal guardian to be eligible for entry. The downloadable consent form is found here. Entries by/for students under the age of 13 without a signed, uploaded form will be ineligible and discarded.
  • For the curious, here are the official rules from the Library of Congress

For Teachers

Letters About Literature supports educational standards established for reading and language arts as recommended by the International Reading Association and the National Council for the Teaching of English.

Teacher Guide to Letters About Literature
What would you say? – Writing prompt

More About the Program

The 26th 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.

To learn more about the Letters About Literature contest at the national level, visit the Letters About Literature national homepage

Previous Winners: See winning letters and list of finalists in Washington state.

For more info: wacenterforthebook.org