2008 Letters About Literature Contest Kicks Off

The Maryland Center for the Book, a program of the Maryland Humanities Council, is calling for entries for the 2009 Letters About Literature contest, a national reading and writing program that encourages young people in grades 4-12 to write to an author who has transformed their view of the world or themselves. This annual, national contest is one of the signature programs of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. 

Last year, Maryland boasted a national winner when Maggie Tighe, then an 11th grade student attending Governor ThomasJohnson High School, was selected as one of six national winners. Tighe chose Monocacy Middle School Library in Frederick as the library to receive a $10,000 library reading grant provided by Target in honor of her achievement. 

The contest, which focuses on reader response and reflective writing, has three competition levels: Level 1 for students in grades 4-6; Level 2 for students in grades 7 and 8; and Level 3 for students in grades 9-12. More than 56,000 readers nationwide in grades 4 through 12 participated last year. 

Student awards are presented on both the national and state level. Judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select six national winners (two per competition level) and 12 national runners-up (four per competition level). National winners will receive a Target GiftCard of $500. In addition, they will win for their school or community library a Reading Promotion Grant of $10,000. National winners will be instrumental in deciding how the library funds will be spent. The 12 national runners-up will win for their school or community library a Reading Promotion Grant of $1,000, and likewise be involved in the awarding of the grant. State winners receive recognition and cash prizes at a state-wide award ceremony in the spring. 

All entries must be received by December 6, 2008. Contest guidelines, and letters from last year’s winners, are available on the MHC website at http://www.mdhc.org/programs/maryland-center-for-the-book/letters-about-literature/. Guidelines can also be obtained by calling Jean Wortman at 410-685-4187. 

Teachers, librarians, and parents can download contest materials, including lesson plans, assessment checklists, and writing samples, by visiting www.lettersaboutliterature.org. Program updates will be published on this website throughout the year. 

The Letters About Literature contest in Maryland is promoted and implemented by the Maryland Center for the Book, a program of the Maryland Humanities Council, with satellites at Washington County Free Library and Talbot County Free Library. The Center is one of 50 state affiliates of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. 

The Maryland Humanities Council is a statewide, educational, nonprofit organization that is affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. The purpose of the Council is to stimulate and promote informed dialogue and civic engagement on issues critical to Marylanders. 

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