Has a book ever changed your view of the world or yourself?
For young readers in grades 4–12, our annual writing contest, Letters About Literature (LAL), encourages a love of reading and an appreciation for the power of words and ideas. Sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, this contest not only promotes reading and writing, but also inspires creativity and encourages young people to be lifelong readers.
Every year, thousands of Maryland students submit a letter to the LAL Contest. In 2015, Marylander Juliana Gorman won a national honor for her letter to author Elie Wiesel (PDF). The LAL contest has winners and cash prizes at both the state and national levels.
How it works
Students are asked to read a book, poem or speech and write to the author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. Readers in grades 4–12 are eligible to enter the contest.
OF SPECIAL NOTE:
- The process for submitting letters has changed. Moving forward, Maryland entries can only be submitted via the online platform. No mailed entries will be accepted. The online submission platform can be accessed here.
- Students under the age of 13 (as of 11/1/18) must obtain and upload signed permission from parent/legal guardian to be eligible for entry. The downloadable permission form can be found at http://read.gov/letters.
- Letters must be at least 400 words and no more than 800 words.
- Book reports and fan letters will be disqualified.
- Entries that include addresses and personal contact information in the letter will be disqualified.
By the Numbers
- 50Maryland schools participating in the 2018 Letters About Literature contest
- 1,8202018 Maryland Letters About Literature participants
- 16Maryland Counties participating in the 2018 Letters About Literature contest
The Maryland Center for the Book at Maryland Humanities, one of 52 state affiliates of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, coordinates Letters About Literature in Maryland.
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.