Rules & Entry Forms


The Center for the Book invites Minnesota’s 4th through 12th grade students to enter the 2017-2018 contest.

The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, as the Minnesota Center for the Book, along with local sponsor the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English, 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 1,122 participants from Minnesota!

There is one deadline for the competition:

January 12, 2018 is the deadline for all three levels

Download official rules and entry coupon here.

Teachers and librarians, please note that every letter must have an entry coupon. If you are sending paper copies, please duplicate the entry coupons and have students staple those coupons to the back of their letters. Class sets should come in alphabetical order. 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. *NEW THIS YEAR* PDFs of letters and accompanying entry coupons will be accepted. Scan and send your letter to

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

The 25th 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. At the state level, this program is also made possible in part by the State of Minnesota through a grant to the Minnesota Department of Education.