Illinois Center for the Book

Letters About Literature Illinois Center for the Book


Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing 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. More than one million students have participated in the Library of Congress Letters About Literature contest since it began 25 years ago.

2018 winners with Secretary of State Jesse White
2018 winners Akosua Haynes, Sakura Fagan and Rylee Paige Johnson with Secretary of State Jesse White.

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

The are three levels of participation:

One Illinois winner is selected for each level and receives a $200 cash award. Teachers of the winning students also receive $100 to purchase materials for their school library. Additionally, the state winners' letters advance to the national competition. National winners for each of the three competition levels receive $1,000, and national honor winners for each level receive $200.

2019 Contest Information and Resources:

The 2019 Contest Guidelines and Entry Coupon will be available in the Fall of 2018. The deadline to enter will be in December 2018 or January 2019. State winners will be formally announced in May 2019.

2018 Illinois Winners

** Akosua Haynes and Rylee Paige Johnson were also chosen by the Library of Congress as National Prize winners.

Past Letters About Literature Winners