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Letters About Literature is a national reading contest for students sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Illinois Center for the Book and other participating state centers for the book.

The program invites 4th - 12th grade students to read a book of their choice, reflect on it and write a letter to the author explaining how the book changed their life of view of the world. Students can enter Letters About Literature on their own or through their schools, libraries or youth organizations.

The are three levels of participation: Level I for grades 4 - 6, Level II for grades 7 - 8, and Level III for grades 9 - 12. One Illinois winner will be selected for each level and receive a $200 award. Teachers of the winning students receive a $100 award to purchase materials for their school library. Winners and teachers will be invited to an awards ceremony in Springfield. The state winners' letters are forwarded for national judging. One national winner in each of the three competition levels will receive $1,000 cash award and one national honor in each level will receive a $200 cash award.

If you have questions or want to be included on the mailing list, please contact Bonnie Matheis at the Illinois Center for the Book at Bonnie Matheis.

Information about the 2016 Program

The competition is currently underway. The entry deadlines are:

  • December 4, 2015 for Level III (Grades 9–12)
  • January 11, 2016 for Levels I and II (Grades 4–6 and Grades 7-8)

Entry form, contest guidelines and additional resources:

Information about the 2015 Program

Information about the 2014 Program

Information about the 2013 Program

Information about the 2012 Program

Information about the 2011 Program

Information about the 2010 Program

Information about the 2009 Program

Information about the 2008 Program

Information about the 2007 Program

Information about previous Program Winners