Letters About Literature Illinois Center for the Book
Letters About Literature is a national reflective writing competition sponsored by the Library of Congress Center for the Book and presented in association with the Illinois Center for the Book and other affiliate State Centers for the Book. The contest is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book.
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:
- Level I: Grades 4–6
- Level II: Grades 7–8
- Level III: Grades 9–12
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.
2018-2019 Contest Information and Resources:
The competition is currently in the judging phase. State winners will be announced in May 2019.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Letters About Literature Supports Common Core State Standards
- Letters About Literature Supports National Language Arts and Reading Standards
- National Letters About Literature WebsiteTeaching Guide
- Video Guides
2018 Illinois Winners
- Level I, Grades 4-6: Akosua Haynes** of Chicago wrote to Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. Akosua is a student at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Chicago.
- Level II, Grades 7-8: Rylee Paige Johnson** of Hoffman Estates wrote to Gabrielle Zevin, author of Elsewhere: A Novel. Rylee attends Eisenhower Junior High in Hoffman Estates. Her letter was submitted by teacher Tracy Otto.
- Level III, Grades 9-12: Sakura Fagan of Petersburg wrote to Dorthea Goldenberg and Bette Killion for their adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit. Sakura attends PORTA High School in Petersburg. Her letter was submitted by teacher Pat Woods.
- Secretary of State Press Release Announcing Illinois Winners
- Winning Letters
** Akosua Haynes and Rylee Paige Johnson were also chosen by the Library of Congress as National Prize winners.