The 23rd annual Letters About Literature contest, a national reading and writing competition for students, has been announced by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

To enter, fourth- through 12th-grade students write a personal letter to a living or dead author of any genre explaining how that author’s book, poem or play changed their views of the world or themselves. Students may enter on their own or through their schools or local libraries in three levels: Level 1 for grades 4–6, Level 2 for grades 7-8 and Level 3 for grades 9–12.

The national LAL team will select finalists from each state for each competition level, and Louisiana winners will be chosen by a panel of judges from throughout the state. Louisiana winners will receive $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place and will be recognized at next year’s Louisiana Book Festival. First-place winning letters will be submitted to the Library of Congress for the national competition with the chance of winning up to $1,000.

Each student’s letter and entry coupon — available online at — must be sent to Letters About Literature, c/o Project Manager C. Gourley, 81 Oliver St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18705. The postmark deadline for Level 3 is Dec. 4, and Jan. 11 for Levels 1 and 2. The entry forms and information, as well as teacher’s guide, may be downloaded from the website.

Letters About Literature is made possible by a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

In Louisiana, the contest is made possible by the Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana with the assistance of the Louisiana Writing Project and the Louisiana Library and Book Festival Foundation.

Funding for prizes is provided by the Library of Congress grant.