Letters About Literature
A national reading-writing contest for grades 4 - 12.
Letters About Literature
Has a book changed how you think about the world or yourself?
Letters About Literature is an annual, national reading and writing program organized by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. To enter, students in grades 4-12 write a letter to the author (living or dead) of their favorite book, poem, or short story and describe how that book moved or changed them.
Winning letters tend to be personal, self-reflective, and deep-thinking, relating ideas, characters, and lessons learned to how the reader views or navigates through the world. Do you look up to a character for something that they’ve done? What about what that character has gone through—have you seen that in your own life? What parts of your book, story, or poem do you see in your life here in Maine? Has that made an impact on how you think or act?
Each state chooses a winner in each level, and the Library of Congress chooses a national winner from the state winners in each level. State winners receive a cash prize of $100. National winners receive a prize of $1,000. Click here for more entry guidelines and information about the program.
Level 1 (grades 4-6)
First Place: Jasmine Lockwood, SeDoMoCha Middle School, about Too Tought to Hurt
Second Place: Aelia Russell, Center for Teaching and Learning, about Because of Mr. Terupt
Olivia Bean, Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School, about Out of My Mind
Abigail Bergmark, Mary Snow School, about Hello, Universe
Ruth Burchstead, Center for Teaching and Learning, about I Am Malala
Eva Cooke, Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School, about The Running Dream
Isabel Harrow, Mary Snow School, about Extroardinary
Joshua Partal, Mary Snow School, about Wonder
Nestor Powers, Center for Teaching and Learning, about The Art of Racing in the Rain
Sofie Reuter, Mary Snow School, about Out of My Mind
Claire Sinibaldi, Center for Teaching and Learning, about The Running Dream
Level 2 (grades 7 & 8)
First Place: Olivia Martin, Sanford Junior High School, about Dangerous
Second Place: Georgia Boudreaux, Reeds Brook Middle School, about The Lorax
Kassidy Barrett, Windsor Elementary School, about A Dog’s Purpose
Jane Bonnevie-Rothrock, Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School, about I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia
Mallory Bruen, Reeds Brook Middle School, about Carry On
Carlo Cabrera, Saint Dominic Academy, about The Lightening Thief
Hope Cherneskey, Mt. Blue Middle School, about House of Hades
Julianne Cook, Saint Dominic Academy, about Intensive Care: The Story of a Nurse
Noah Cyr, Saint Dominic Academy, about The Devil’s Arithmetic
Isabella Farrington, Sanford Junior High School, about The Shack
Julia Flaherty, Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School, about The Giver
Brianna Giroux, Winslow Junior High School, about Wonder
Joshua Hebert, Mt. Blue Middle School, about The Flame of Olympus
Lily Heyland, Wells Junior High School, about UnknownMeghan Holmes, J.A. Leonard Middle School, about Between Shades of Gray
Jack Johnson, Reeds Brooks Middle School, about The Blind Side
Elizabeth Jones, Mount Desert Elementary School, about Goodnight Moon
Sophie Kahn, Reeds Brook Middle School, about Out of My Mind
Lily Ker, Waterville Junior High School, about Children of Eden
Alec Kielbasa, Reeds Brook Middle School, about the Harry Potter series
Azaria Long, Mount Desert Elementary School, about Ellison the Elephant
Patrick Manson, Saint Dominic Academy, about The Wizard of Oz
Ana Moreno, Saint Dominic Academy, about The Fault in Our Stars
Paige Napolillo, Reeds Brook Middle School, about Awful Auntie
Cabe Packard, Reeds Brook Middle School, about Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6
Bella Perryman, Saint Dominic Academy, about Ladybug Girl
Ian Pinkham, Reeds Brook Middle School, about Ugly
Amelia Plant, Reeds Brook Middle School, about Out of My Mind
Dominic Salow, Daniel F. Mahoney Middle School, about The Giver
Kady Stanhope, Reeds Brook Middle School, about George
Kyla Wallace, Saint Dominic Academy, about Son
Jessica Zimmerman, Saint Dominic Academy, about Dork Diaries series
Level 3 (grades 9-12)
First Place: Sylvette Dupé-Vété-Congolo, Mt. Ararat High School, about The Hate U Give
Second Place: Elias Matso, Robert William Traip Academy, about Boy Meets Boy
Corrine Abbott, Winthrop High School, about My Hero Academia
Camila Ciembroniewicz, Mt. Ararat High School, about Eleanor and Park
Kelsey Farrell, Winthrop High School, about The Things They Carried
Jordyn Gardner, Katahdin High School, about You Are a Badass
Hunter Glidden, Winthrop High School, about Bridge to Terabithia
Emma McGraw, Katahdin High School, about Time Stoppers
Emma Paradis, Maine Virtual Academy, about Surprised By Oxford
Nichole Roberts, Robert William Traip Academy, about Milk and Honey
My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was beginning third grade. By the time I was in fourth grade, things were going down-hill quickly. Inkheart was one bond that we shared. When she would start reading it to me, the bleak world would fade away and be replaced by the lively performance of the Motley Folk moving from Lombrica to Argenta, or the comforting sounds of bookbinding tools in Mo's workshop....Ms. Funke, hearing your voice in Inkheart helped me find my own. I now know that I will always write. I hope to write scripts, and poetry, and inspiring stories, and sad stories, and comical stories, and maybe even books. Books like yours. Books about magic, miracles, hope, love, and strength.
I read your poem one morning at school, but it wasn’t until I went into the cafeteria for lunch that I experienced the alarming side effects. I was stunned to see a wall winding throughout the whole cafeteria, a beautiful New England stonewall, just like in your poem. I could see in some places the wall had been carefully taken care of, and in other places stones had fallen haphazardly on either side and left the wall with gaps. The wall wound around the popular kids table and encircled the geeks; it ran past the football players who were animatedly discussing the latest game. As I stood in the doorway, I watched a group of girls point at a boy on the other side of the wall. They giggled and whispered as they haughtily added jagged, sharp rocks to their tall and imposing section. I wondered at the irony of the neighbor’s comment in your poem when he said, “Good fence[s] make good neighbors.” I was pretty sure I was looking at a boy who would not agree. I saw that the wall prevented us from getting to know out own classmates.
One day I saw one of your books in my school's library. "Meet Kaya" it read. The cover of the book was what caught my eye. Kaya, the Indian girl was standing there with her gorgeous black stallion. She was an Indian girl? I just had to pick it up. Kaya's adventures captivated me. I felt like it was me who was flying through the air on a black stallion. I was the girl who took care of my dear and very best friend. I was living in an animal hide Tee Pee in a beautiful field. When I finished the first book, I quickly went out and bought the entire series. I read them every night, like a ritual. They opened my eyes to the beauty of being a Native American. When I realized that, I began to stand up for myself. I stopped putting up with the bullying that I was receiving and defended myself. I tried extremely hard to make friends and forced myself to be less shy. Before I knew it, my life had been transformed.
Charlie was depressed, just like me. I related to him. Reading the book, I felt like I finally had someone who understood me. It was almost as if he was real and he was my good friend. Sort of like what you said, "It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book." Charlie, Sam and Patrick were the friends I didn't have.
This year a lot of my students avoid reading and writing, so it has been difficult to motivate them. This contest was one way that helped to spark them, and I have seen more effort in this task than I have seen in any other so far this year. They have truly enjoyed this writing activity and I have been very impressed with the results.
I have a cousin who is deaf and has autism. He is fourteen and I have always thought he was “weird,” because he was different then me. When I look back on that I realize that I was being mean by putting a label on him. He also has hearing aids and has a guide dog and you had the phonic ear and hearing aids so you and him are so similar. When I went to see him, I kept my distance because he scared me because he talks funny and received special attention. That has changed now because I read El Deafo and I know that is not his fault that he is deaf and has autism. It is no one’s fault and that you should not put labels on people just because they don’t act the same way as everyone else or need special attention sometimes. So now next time i see him. I will treat him like everyone else, because he is human too.
It’s only been a month or so since I finished your book on Steve Jobs. I still think about it a few times a week. You changed my life in a way I didn’t anticipate. I’m conflicted about the price of success. At 13 years old, I haven’t read a lot of biographies that detail the personal lives of super successful people. I understand that an underlying theme for the super successful is being fully dedicated to the goal at hand. Steve Job’s behavior reminds me of the old saying that “nothing succeeds like excess”. Is excess a requirement for extreme success? Your story leaves me wondering if this is the case – and struggling with the balance between still wanting to do something great while still being someone great. Consequently, your story created more questions in my life than it answered.
What a great opportunity your contest was for my students. We had fantastic discussions about books and authors. The materials on-line helped immensely with the structuring and developing of their letters. Peer sharing of their thoughts was very valuable. Even though the entire process took quite a few periods, I think the overall results were well worth the time spent. Thank you.
The 23rd annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous 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.
Support for the program in Maine is generously provided by the David Royte Fund.