November 6, 2008 One Month Remains For Submissions To Letters About Literature Competition

Students in Grades 4-12 Invited to Write a Letter to an Author Who Influenced Their Life

Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress, (202) 707-9217; Catherine Gourley, Letters About Literature, (570) 675-3305

The postmark entry deadline for Letters About Literature (LAL), a nationwide writing contest that celebrates the relationship between young readers and authors, is Dec. 6. Sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in association with Target, LAL invites students on three competition levels (elementary, middle school and secondary) to write a personal letter to an author explaining how his or her work somehow changed the reader’s view of the world or of himself or herself. Each year, LAL awards more than 150 state-level prizes. Additionally, the program selects six national winners, each of whom will earn for their community or school library a $10,000 Letters About Literature Reading Promotion Grant. Twelve national honorable mention winners each will earn a $1,000 grant for the community or school library of their choice. LAL challenges young readers by asking that they write to a particular audience (the author of a book rather than a teacher) with a specific purpose (to explain or describe his or her personal reader response to the work). By encouraging personal reader response and reflexive writing, LAL encourages meaningful reading and helps to create successful writers. Teachers and librarians can download the how-to-enter guidelines from the LAL Web site, Free teaching materials, including lesson plans, writing samples and assessment checklists, are also available at this site. The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s Web site,, and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at The Center for the Book ( was established by Congress in 1977 to use these resources to promote books, reading and literacy. With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. The center’s Books and Beyond author series brings writers of all genres to the Library of Congress to discuss their work. Target sponsors Letters About Literature as part of its commitment to supporting education and early childhood reading. Target recognizes the integral role that reading plays in shaping a child’s future, because reading is the foundation for lifelong learning and success. Since opening its doors, Target has given five percent of its income to organizations that support education, social services and the arts. Currently, the sum donated is $3 million every week. LAL supports national standards for teaching language arts and reading as recommended by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.


PR 08-208
ISSN 0731-3527