Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Letters About Literature Contest

I found a great way to get my students excited about writing and reading! Inspire them to win a contest that pays money is how. This is an annual event and is available in other states as well. Details follow...


First, reflect and connect! Select a fiction or nonfiction book, a short story, poem, essay or speech (sorry, no song lyrics) you have read and about which you have strong feelings. Explore those feelings and why you reacted the way you did during or after reading the author’s work. Consider one or more of these questions when writing your letter: Did the characters, conflict or setting mirror your life in some way? What strengths or flaws do you share with a character or characters in the book? What did the book show you about your world that you never noticed before? What surprised you about yourself while you were reading this book? Why was this work meaningful to you?

Second, write a personal letter (not a fan letter or a book report!) Express yourself! A letter is less formal
than an essay or research paper. 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! Keep in mind these two tips:
• Correspond, don’t compliment! Your entry should inform rather than flatter the author.
• Do not summarize the book’s plot! The author wrote the book and already knows what happened. What the
author doesn’t know is how the book affected you.

Third, prepare your letter for submission.
• Entries for Level 1 should be no less than 100 words and no more than 400 words.*
• Entries for Level 2 should be no less than 300 words and no more than 600 words.*
• Entries for Level 3 should be no less than 500 words and no more than 800 words.*
*Recommended lengths.

Please refer to the Contest Entry Guidelines in Rules #4 of the Official Rules found at www.loc.gov/lettersfor
complete information on how to prepare your letter.

All entries will be judged on the following criteria:
• Exposition (the writer’s use of language skills, organization and grammar).
• Content (the writer’s achievement in addressing the contest theme).
• Writer’s Voice (the writer’s style and originality of expression).
Each criteria will be scored on a scale of zero (0) to five (5), where five (5) is excellent and zero (0) is not fulfilling the judging criteria.

Your letter must be postmarked by December 14, 2007, and mailed to:
Emily Masters
Humanities Tennessee, Tennessee Center for the Book
306 Gay Street, Suite 306
Nashville, TN 37201
Ph: (612) 770-0006 x15

Judges for each participating State Center for the Book will select the top letter in each Level of Competition (see State Level Judging in the Official Rules for more details). State Winners will receive a $50 Target GiftCard SM and will advance to the National Level Judging. Judges for The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select six (6) National Winners (2 per Level of Competition) and twelve (12) National Honorable Mention Winners (4 per Level of Competition). The National Winners will receive a $500 Target GiftCard, plus each will win a $10,000 LAL Reading Promotion Grant for their community or school library so that others can experience personal relationships with authors and the stories they tell. Additionally, the National Honorable Mention Winners will each receive a $100 Target GiftCard and a $1,000 LAL
Reading Promotion Grantfor the community or school library of their choice. Community or school library selected for the National Winners and National Honorable Mention Winners is at the Sponsor’s sole discretion. Refer to the National Level Judging in the Official Rules for more details.