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Public Information and Communication

September 24, 2007

Mary Jo Ryan

Library of Congress Sponsors National Reading and Writing Contest for Young Readers

State and National Winners Will Be Selected
National Winners Will Earn a $10,000 Reading Promotion Grant for their Community School Library

Letters about Literature is a national reading and writing promotion program for young readers in grades 4 through 12, sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in partnership with Target. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work changed their view of the world or themselves. Young readers can select authors from any genre-fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. The contest is sponsored in Nebraska by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, Houchen Bindery Ltd., and Lee Booksellers.

Judges representing the Nebraska Center for the Book will select the top essayists in the state on three competition levels: Level I for young readers in grades 4 through 6, Level II for grade 7 and 8 readers, and Level III for readers in grades 9 through 12. Entries in each state will be assessed on three criteria: content, or the writer's achievement in addressing the contest theme; exposition, or the writer's use of language skills; and voice, the writer's style and originality of expression.

State winners will receive a $50 Target Gift Card. Each state winner will then advance to the national competition.  A panel of judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will then select six national winners (two per competition level) and twelve national runners-up (four per competition level). Each national winner will receive a $500 Target Gift Card. In addition, they will win a Reading Promotion Grant of $10,000 for their school or community library. National winners will be instrumental in deciding how the library funds will be spent.  The 12 national runners-up will win a $100 Target Gift Card, plus they will win a Reading Promotion Grant of $1,000 for their school or community library.

The required entry coupon and a copy of the "how to enter" guidelines are available at /publications/lal/aboutcontest.html. Contact for free teaching materials (including lesson plans, blackline masters, writing samples, and assessment checklists) for schools, libraries, and home school partnerships. Deadline for entries is December 14, 2007.

Target sponsors Letters about Literature as part of its commitment to supporting education and early childhood reading. Target recognizes the integral role reading plays in shaping a child's future, because reading is the foundation for life-long learning and success. Since opening its doors, Target has given five percent of its income to organizations that support education, the arts, and safe families and communities.  Today that translates to $3 million every week.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading.   For information about its activities and national reading promotion networks, visit


The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state's readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. 


As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

For more information, contact Tessa Terry.