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

To enter, fourth- through 12th-grade students must 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, a news release said.

Students may enter on their own or through their schools or local libraries in three levels: Level 1 for grades four to six, Level 2 for grades seven and eight and Level 3 for grades nine to 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 — must be sent to Letters About Literature, in care of 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 a teacher’s guide, may be downloaded at

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, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations.

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 a Library of Congress grant.