Name: ___________________


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Writing, Speech, Debate, & General Knowledge
1.27 Letters About Literature

Library of Congress conducts an annual contest on letters about literature. To prepare for this contest, follow these directions:

  1. First, reflect and connect! Select a fiction or nonfiction book, a short story, poem, essay or speech (sorry, no song lyrics) you have read and about which you have strong feelings. Explore those feelings and why you reacted the way you did during or after reading the authorís work. Consider one or more of these questions when writing your letter: Did the characters, conflict or setting mirror your life in some way? What strengths or flaws do you share with a character or characters in the book? What did the book show you about your world that you never noticed before? What surprised you about yourself while you were reading this book? Why was this work meaningful to you?

  2. Second, write a personal letter (not a fan letter or a book report!) Express yourself! A letter is less formal than an essay or research paper. Write honestly and in your own voice, as if you were having a conversation with the author. Those are the best letters to read and the most fun to write! Keep in mind these two tips:
    • Correspond, donít compliment! Your entry should inform rather than flatter the author.
    • Do not summarize the bookís plot! The author wrote the book and already knows what happened. What the author doesnít know is how the book affected you.
For more information about the Letters About Literature Contest, please see:
Library of Congress Website