May 3, 2017 Library to Combine Summer and Fall Youth Reading-Writing Programs

Summer Contest for Rising 5th- and 6th- Graders Kicks Off at Mid-Atlantic Public Libraries

Press Contact: Lola Pyne (202) 707-3128
Public Contact: Bryonna Head (202) 707-3073
Website: A Book That Shaped Me: Letters About Literature

The Library of Congress is combining its two reading and writing programs for young people – A Book That Shaped Me and Letters About Literature. The move will enable the Library to better leverage its resources, to brand the programs more consistently and to encourage greater participation in these long-running programs.

The Library today kicks off its annual summer contest, now titled A Book That Shaped Me: Letters About Literature. The program will still target rising 5th- and 6th-grade students and will be managed in collaboration with libraries in six states as in past years. Winners will be honored at the 2017 National Book Festival, which will take place Saturday, Sept. 2.

Students will be asked to write a letter to their local librarian about a book that shaped their lives. The concept of letter-writing is adapted from the older program, Letters About Literature, which for 25 years has been asking students to write letters to an author whose book they read.

 “The two programs have very similar goals – getting kids to read and write about the books they love,” said Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. “This integration will deepen the impact of the programs and enable the Library to market them more effectively.”

The A Book That Shaped Me summer writing contest is administered as part of summer reading programs at participating public libraries in Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia; Delaware; Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Prizes will be awarded and top winners will be invited to present their essays during a special presentation at the 17th Library of Congress National Book Festival, Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. (

Students entering 5th and 6th grades in the fall of 2017 are eligible. Letters, focused on a single book, should be one page in length and must be submitted with an entry form, in person, at participating public library locations. The deadline for entries is Saturday, July 8, 2017.

A Book That Shaped Me will award prizes to five finalists and one winner per state, and to three overall grand-prize winners. The 30 finalists will be selected by a panel of scorers comprised of members of the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association. The three grand-prize winners will be selected by a panel of judges assembled by the Library of Congress, including educators, children’s authors and Library of Congress staff.

Submission forms are available at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center in Room G-29 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., and at participating public library locations. The list of participating libraries and more information are available at

Launched in 2012 with DC Public Library, A Book That Shaped Me has since expanded throughout the Mid-Atlantic region with the help of public libraries in Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia; Delaware; Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Nearly 300 public libraries are registered to participate in this, the sixth program year. Public library systems in these states may sign up through May 12, 2017, by contacting  for program details.

The Library kicked off the 2017 contest as part of Children’s Book Week, a celebration sponsored by the Children's Book Council, which is a reading-promotion partner of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

The National Book Festival is made possible by the generous support of private and public sector sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy, led by National Book Festival Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein. Charter Sponsors are the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The James Madison Council, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; the Patron sponsor is the National Endowment for the Arts; the Contributor-level sponsors are Thomas V. Girardi, Beverly and Lyman Hamilton, the National Endowment for the Humanities and Scholastic Inc.; and, in the Friends category, Candlewick Press, John J. Medveckis and Mensa Education and Research Foundation. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.  Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at


PR 17-066
ISSN 0731-3527