Rules & Entry Forms


The Center for the Book invites Minnesota’s 4th through 12th grade students to enter the 2016 contest.

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the Minnesota Center for the Book, along with local cosponsors the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English and Common Good Books, calls all Minnesota students in grades 4-12 to share their love of literature.

Sponsored nationally by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the contest asks readers to write a letter to an author describing how his or her work touched their life in a personal way. Authors can be of any genre or time period and can come from any country.

The contest focuses on reader response and reflective writing and 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. State level judges choose the top essayists from each of the three competition levels who will advance to the National Level Judging. Prizes will be awarded to the top three winners of each competition level.

A panel of national judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select one National Winner per competition level to receive a $1,000 cash award. The judges will also select one National Honor per competition level to receive a $200 cash award.

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. Last year’s contest attracted 1,179 participants from Minnesota!

There are two deadlines for the competition:

December 2, 2016 is the deadline for Level 3:  grades 9-12

January 9, 2017 is the deadline for Level 1: grades 4-6, & Level 2: grades 7 & 8

Download the official 2016-2017 entry form and guidelines here (PDF).
Download the official 2015 LAL Press Release (PDF).

Read the 2016-2017 entry form and guidelines carefully to make sure you are entering in the correct category.


Teachers and librarians, please note that every letter must have an entry coupon. Please duplicate the entry coupons and have students staple those coupons to the back of their letters. Individuals, please note that you must also include your name and address on your letter in addition to completing and stapling your entry coupon to your letter.

For more information on entering the contest and official guidelines, visit the Letters About Literature website.


The 24th annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations.