Maryland Humanities Council

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Letters About Literature Writing Contest

Letters About Literature (LAL) is a national writing contest for students in grades 4 to 12 sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.


Maryland winners are honored annually during CityLit Festival at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. An outstanding participating educator is also recognized at the ceremony with the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year Award. Photos by Nick Simko.


2014 LAL Award Presentation

(left to right) Aaron Heinsman (MHC Director of Development), Phoebe Stein (MHC Executive Director), Jisoo Choi (2014 LAL national contest winner, John DiPaula (Burleigh Manor Middle School Principal), Andrea Lewis (MHC Program Officer)

On Monday, June 9 2014, MHC presented the Letters About Literature national level II contest winner Jisoo Choi with a plaque recognizing her achievement and a $1000 award on behalf of the Center for the book in the Library of Congress. Choi appeared with MHC representatives and her principal John DiPaula on the morning announcements at Burleigh Manor Middle School to receive her recognition.



Watch a video recap of the 2014 Letters About Literature Awards Ceremony:

LAL encourages young readers to write to the author of a book expressing how that book changed their view of themselves or the world. This contest not only promotes reading and writing, but also inspires creativity in young people and encourages them to be life-long readers. It develops critical reading and writing skills that students need to be successful both in their school careers and as adults. Fans of any genre, fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or the classics, are invited to participate, with the chance to receive awards and recognition at the state and national level. 

2014 Competition levels:

  • Level 1 – Grades 4-6 
  • Level 2 – Grades 7-8
  • Level 3 – Grades 9-12 

Educators: Looking for a way to connect Letters About Literature with the Common Core curriculum? These two sample letters, with annotations by the national office, may be useful: a letter from sixth grade student Margaret Lim and eighth grade student Diana Lanni.

Visit where you will find more information about the national competition as well as answers to frequently asked questions.

Contact Andrea Lewis at 410-685-6161 or for more information on the Maryland LAL program and the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year Award.

LAL is one of the signature programs of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and is coordinated locally by the Maryland Center for the Book.

Support Maryland Students via Text Message!

It takes a lot of resources—time, creativity, money, and manpower—to produce Letters About Literature, particularly when more than 2,200 students participate statewide! You can make a difference. Donate $10.00—enough to cover the costs associated with one student—Message & data rates may apply.

Click here for full details.