The Letters About Literature competition is now open. Deadlines: Jan. 13, 2013

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana, with the support of the Louisiana Writing Project, is continuing its state sponsorship of Letters About Literature (LAL), qualifying young readers in grades 4 though 10 to participate in the national writing competition presented by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress through its affiliate state centers.
Last year, 60,000 students entered; and one of Louisiana’s state winners received a National Honor Award for grades 4-6, while another was a finalist for grades 7-8. All state winners will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival.

The Letters About Literature competition is now open. To enter, the student reader writes a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre — fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, contemporary or classic — explaining how that author’s work, whether book, short story, poem, essay, or speech, changed the reader’s way of thinking about the world or oneself. The submission, in the form of a personal letter rather than a book report or fan letter, should express how the chosen book has impacted the reader’s life or worldview.

There are three competition levels: Level I for students in grades 4-6; Level II for grades 7-8; and Level III, grades 9-10 (Note: due to national funding cuts, not grades 11-12).
A young reader from a participating state may enter either through a classroom teacher/school or library, or as an individual, on his or her own. Entrants must be at least 9 years old; grade levels refer to the 2012-13 school year.

Submissions must be sent directly to the Letters About Literature, P.O. Box 5308, Woodbridge, VA 22194; entries must be postmarked by Friday, Jan. 13, 2013, and received at LAL Central no later than Jan. 23, 2013. Submissions sent to the Louisiana Center for the Book will not be forwarded or returned. Further information and detailed guidelines for Letters About Literature and the downloadable entry coupon may be found at (How to Enter). Teachers and Librarians: see the specific attached instructions or website instructions regarding group submissions. School/library information is required on each entry. Individuals: Home schooled students and other individuals entering on their own are encouraged to participate using the same form.

LAL Central, the national Letters About Literature team, will choose the top 30-50 entries in each competition level from each state. From these, a panel of Louisiana judges, primarily composed of Louisiana language arts teachers and librarians chosen in partnership with the Louisiana Writing Project, will choose a first, second and third place winner for each grade level on or about March 15, to be announced as soon as possible thereafter. State honorable mentions may be awarded at the sole discretion of the state judges. The letters by the state first-place winners for each competition level are sent back to LAL Central where they are then in the running for the national awards.
State winners in each competition level, to be announced in April, will receive $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place, made possible by a grant from the Library of Congress. A National Winner for each competition level will be announced mid-May and will receive a $1,000 cash award, with second place winners receiving $150.

Louisiana language arts teachers, school librarians, public children’s and YA librarians, and home school parents/instructors are encouraged to visit the Letters About Literature website for more information and lessons plans, and to incorporate the Letters About Literature into their curriculum and programming to facilitate Louisiana youth’s participation in and representation of the state in this reading and writing activity.

Cantú and Toscano

The public is invited to join LSU Readers & Writers at HopKins Black Box Theatre on campus at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, for the second event of the group’s 20th anniversary season, “Shifting Borderlands: Latino/a Poetry, Folklore, and Performance,” featuring folklorist and memoirist Norma Cantú and poet Rodrigo Toscano. Cantú’s publications on border literature, the teaching of English, quinceañera celebration, and the matachines have earned her an international reputation. She is author of a memoir, Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la frontera. Toscano is an experimental poet, playwright, and labor activist whose work explores the nature of borders: the borders between languages and cultures, between poetry and political action, between the made thing and its making, and between speech and theater. Toscano is the author of several collections of poetry, including Collapsible Poetics Theater (2008), which was chosen for the National Poetry Series.
This event is free and open to the public, and a reception and book signing will follow. For more information, go to

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