Letters About Literature

Theme for LAL. How did an author's work change your view of the world or yourself?

Each year the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in partnership with affiliate state centers for the book, invites readers in grades 4 through 12 to enter Letters About Literature, a national reading-writing contest. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre– fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic, explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s way of thinking about the world or themselves. There are three competition levels: Level I for children in grades 4 through 6; Level II for grades 7 and 8, and Level III, grades 9 – 12.



Information for Students and Teachers

Deadlines: Submissions from Grades 9-12 must be postmarked by December 2, 2016. Submissions from Grades 4-8 must be postmarked by January 8, 2017.

If you are in grades 4-12, you are eligible to enter the Letters About Literature reading and writing contest. You do not have to enter through a class. You can enter on your own. Here are the Guidelines and Entry Coupon.

The Letters About Literature Teaching Guide provides activities teachers can use to guide their students through the book discussion and letter-writing process. The guide addresses the LAL teaching strategies and ways in which the program can dovetail with curriculum for teaching reading and writing. Also included are worksheets for duplication and assessment checklists.

State winners receive cash prizes provided by the South Carolina State Library Foundation.

Find out more about the program and how your school or individual child can get involved. You can also view photos from the 2015-2016 awards ceremony on our Flickr account.


2016-2017 Winners

Level I

1st Place              Emma Tiberian: Thomas Cario Middle School, Mt. Pleasant, SC - $100

2nd Place             Meenakshi Balchandran: Calvary Christian School, Myrtle Beach, SC - $50

3rd Place              Dylan Sampson: Hilton Head Christian Academy, Hilton Head, SC - $25


Level II

1st Place              Emily Yi: Sterling School, Greenville, SC - $100

2nd Place             Charles Sanderson: Sterling School, Greenville, SC - $50

3rd Place              Emmalyne Eshleman: Sterling School, Greenville, SC - $25           


Level III               

1st Place              Madeline Wilder: Richard Winn Academy, Winnsboro, SC - $100

2nd Place             Savannah Hall: North Charleston, SC - $50

3rd Place              Elizabeth Smolenski: Myrtle Beach, SC - $25

Speaker at the Center Lunchtime Programs

In Summer 2007, the SC Center for the Book initiated a Speaker at the Center lunchtime series. The program is free and open to the public and attendees should feel free to bring a bag lunch. Visit our events page for a current listing.


The State Centers for the Book linked by US Route 1 which extends from Fort Kent, Maine, to Key West, Florida are joining together to promote books that illuminate important aspects of their states/commonwealths for readers traveling the major and meandering highway.

For 2017, the South Carolina Center for the Book's Route1Reads is Teresa Bruce's The Other Mother: A Rememoir. About the book: The Other Mother is a true story of TV reporter Teresa Bruce and the bond she forges with Bryne Miller, an 82-year-old modern dance pioneer from Manhattan and former Great Depression era burlesque dancer. Byrne and Teresa's friendship is a dance between love and madness, loyalty and truth, and speaks to anyone who has ever needed and cherished the love of an "Other Mother."

The full Route1Reads program is available at

River of Words

The South Carolina Center for the Book is proud to promote the River of Words Contest to South Carolina students, in partnership with the Library of Congress and the River of Words organization.

River of Words is a free, international poetry and art contest for youth on the theme of watersheds. The contest is designed to help youth explore the natural and cultural history of the place they live, and to express, through poetry and art, what they discover.

The contest is open to any child in South Carolina (and the world!), from 5-19 years of age. Students may enter on their own or as part of a group (classroom, Scout troop, 4-H, etc.) The deadline for entries for the 2008 contest is February 15th, 2008. For more information about the contest and how to enter, please see the Web site at For questions, please visit the River of Words website.

Let’s Talk About It

Let’s Talk About It is a reading and discussion program created by the American Library Association and offered free to South Carolina public libraries through a partnership of the South Carolina State Library and The Humanities Council SC.

Book Series

Let’s Talk About It series consist of 4-5 books or films on the same topic or theme, which participants study with the help of scholar facilitators who add depth and breadth of understanding. There are over 36 series from which to choose, ranging in theme from women’s autobiography to the importance of heritage in South Carolina literature.


The South Carolina State Library and The Humanities Council SC provide all the materials and expertise necessary to implement a Let’s Talk About It program in a public library, including full sets of books and other media and a $500 grant to pay for scholar honorarium.