The Letters About Literature contest encourages young readers in grades 4-12 to read a book and write a letter to the author about how the book changed their view of the world or themselves.  Students can write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.  Entries in Spanish are accepted and will be translated for the Washington State judges.

Letter writers compete at three levels: Level 1 is grades 4-6; Level 2 is grades 7-8; and Level 3 is grades 9-12.  State judges select the top letter writer in each level and the three winning letters advance to the national competition.  The three state champions will each receive a $125 cash prize and the champions, runners up, and honorable mentions will be honored at an awards ceremony.  State semifinalists will receive an award certificate in the mail.  National winners receive a $1,000 cash prize and national honor winners receive a $200 cash prize.

The entry deadline for this year’s contest was January 12, 2018 for all levels

Letters that advance through the first two rounds of judging will be returned to Washington in early March.  At that time, they will be distributed to the state judges for the 3rd round of judging.  Students who make it to round 3 will be notified in March.  The state champions, runners up, and honorable mentions will be announced on or before April 10th and the students will be honored at an awards ceremony on May 12th.  The remaining round 3 students will receive state semifinalist certificates in the mail.  National winners will be selected no later than May 5th.

Contest Timeline

Early to mid-March, 2018 – Semifinalist letters returned to WA and distributed to judges.  Semifinalists will be notified and permission forms will be distributed.
Mid- to late March 2018 – Judging will take place.  Permission forms should be returned.
Late March to early April 2018 – Winners will be notified and additional permission forms will be distributed and returned.
On or before April 10, 2018 – Winners, runners up, honorable mentions, and semifinalists will be publicly announced.
On or before May 5, 2018 – National winners will be announced.
May 11, 2018 – Awards ceremony for winners, runners up, and honorable mentions.  Semifinalist award certificates will be mailed.

Washington State Judges

Level 1 – Kelly Milner Halls, author, Spokane; Lorena O’English, Librarian, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman; and Jan Walsh, former WA State Librarian, Olympia.

Level 2 – Cathy Cavness, retired teacher, Centralia; Peg Cheng , author, Seattle; and Sam Reed, former WA Secretary of State, Olympia

Level 3 – James Rosenzweig, Assistant Professor & Education Librarian, Eastern Washington University Libraries, Cheney; Sharma Shields, author, Spokane; and Mary V. Thornton, Library Manager, Timberland Regional Library, Hoquiam.

For more information about Washington’s Letters About Literature contest, please contact wacenterforthebook@gmail.com .

The 25th 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.  This is the thirteenth year that the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, has been part of the contest.  It is also the first year that the contest is sponsored by the Washington Center for the Book (WCB).  The WCB is a new partnership between The Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library.  The mission of the WCB is to promote literacy and a love of books, reading, and libraries.

To learn more about the Letters About Literature contest at the national level, visit the Letters About Literature national homepage on The Center for the Book’s website.

Visit this page to learn more about Washington’s past Letters About Literature contest and to read winning letters.