Letters About Literature

A national reading-writing contest for grades 4-12.


Kyle Volland
Program Assistant
(207) 773-5051


Resources for Teachers and Librarians

Integrating Letters About Literature into the Classroom

1. 2018/2019 Contest Guidlines

Official rules of the program, including how to submit your letter and information on judging and prizes

2. The Library of Congress Teaching Booklet

Please note that the Library of Congress is in the process of uploading new resources for teachers. Check back soon for more teacher guides, videos, and information on how to use the new online submission platform. In the meantime, the above resources are still available from previous years.

The four lessons include:

  1. Focus. Introduces readers to the concept that books can influence our perception of ourselves and our world.
  2. Inquiry. Provides activities to help readers explore the unique relationship between themselves, an author, and a book.
  3. Application. Provides writing tips to help readers shape informative, persuasive letters.
  4. Assessment. Provides a checklist for editing and rewriting their letters for grammatical correctness and originality.

Taken all together, these lessons and activities plus “writing tips” include:

  1. What did you learn about yourself either while reading or after reading this author’s work?
  2. What elements within the book—the author’s characters or setting or style of writing, for example—touched you emotionally or influenced your thoughts?
  3. What insights about the world did this book reveal to you?
  4. Write honestly and in your own voice, as if you were having a conversation with the author. Those are the best letters to read and the most fun to write!

3. NCTE & IRA Standards

Thousands of teachers have found LAL a valuable classroom project. Each year, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress receives hundreds of letters from teachers testifying how the program’s theme and guidelines dovetail with state standards for language arts. Listed below are the standards recommended by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association that apply to the LAL program and recommended teaching activities included in this educational supplement.


  1. Apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.
  2. Adjust their use of spoken, written and visual language for a variety of audiences and purposes.
  3. Employ a wide range of writing strategies.
  4. Apply knowledge of language structure, conventions.
  5. Participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  6. Use spoken, written and visual language to accomplish their purpose.