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Letters About Literature

Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing program for kids grades 4–12. Each fall, students write personal letters to authors (living or dead) about whose work they have strong feelings. They may write about how the selected work changed their view of themselves or their world. The letter’s purpose is to create a conversation with the author in which the student expresses thoughts, feelings, and ideas inspired by the author’s writing, as well as its impact on the student’s life.

Submissions will be accepted online between November 1, 2018 and January 11, 2019. Students under 13 years old must upload parental permission. State and national winners are announced in the spring. See official rules and requirements for full details.

The Montana Center for the Book recognizes and awards prizes to participants at the state level. First place winners receive $100, second place $75, and third place $50. All state winners advance to the national level where a panel of judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress select one national winner per competition level to receive a $2,000 cash award. The judges also select one national honor per competition level to receive a $500 cash award.

Language arts teachers may use this contest as part of a unit that helps students reach Common Core standards in literacy such as citing textual evidence to support analysis, analyzing the development of a central idea, or analyzing how an author’s choices contribute to a text’s overall meaning and aesthetic impact while making a personal connection to their reading. For more information on how to electronically submit your students’ work contact Samantha Dwyer or go to the Library of Congress LAL site.

2018 Winners

Level 1 — grades 4-6

  • First place — Ryan Maeve Howell, Missoula, wrote to Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are

Level 2 — grades 7-8

  • First place — Lily Easton, Missoula, wrote to John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars
  • Second place — Hagen Layne Kalista, Fairfield, wrote to Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet
  • Third place — Audrey Warren, Missoula, wrote to Ben Mikaelsen, author of Petey

Level 3 — grades 9-12

  • First place — Sage Crawford-Kahrl, Bozeman, wrote to Albert Camus, author of The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
  • Second place — Kade McCulloch, Missoula, wrote to Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Third place — Mattie Steinberg, Missoula, wrote to Liz Murray, author of Breaking Night