Monday, November 22, 2010

Letters About Literature 2010

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Students, it's time again for Letters about Literature! (Teachers, click here for specific information on how to enter.) You could win Target gift cards worth $50-$500, plus up to $10,000 for your school!  If you didn't enter last year, here's an excerpt from the LAL website reminding everyone how to write a letter:

Books have wings. You can’t see them, but they are there just the same. On books’ wings, readers can soar to new places where they meet intriguing characters and experience exciting adventures. But a book’s wings can also help a reader rise above difficult situations — like peer pressure, bullying or prejudice, or to cope with disappointment and loss.
Have you ever felt the power and lift of literature? Has one book — or perhaps one author — inspired you to change your view of yourself or your world? If so, we encourage you to enter this year’s Letters About Literature writing competition. All you have to do is write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work affected you.
HOW TO ENTER
Before you can enter, you have to write the letter.And before you can write the letter, you've got tothink about how YOU responded to the book.
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 author’s 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?
  • As  you were reading, what did you remember about yourself or something you experiencedin the past?
  • How did the book's characters or theme help you to understand that past experience?
Your letter need not -- and in fact, should not -- answer every one of the questions above. The questions are just prewriting prompts to get you to start reflecting (or thinking) about your reader's response to the book. 
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, don’t compliment! Your entry should inform rather than flatter the author.
• Do not summarize the book’s plot! The author wrote the book and already knows what happened. What the author doesn’t know is how the book affected you.

Third, prepare your letter for submission.
• Entries for Level 1 should be no less than 100 words and no more than 400 words.*
• Entries for Level 2 should be no less than 300 words and no more than 600 words.*
• Entries for Level 3 should be no less than 500 words and no more than 800 words.*
*Recommended lengths.
Please refer to the Contest Entry Guidelines in Rules #4 of the Official Rules found atwww.loc.gov/letters for complete information on how to prepare your letter.

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