November 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Letters about Literature

DSCF2911.3081042_std.JPGHow do we get American children interested in books? The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress has a winning idea -- Letters About Literature, a program that asks young readers to read a book and then write a letter to its author describing how the book changed their lives. It encourages "reflective writing," and students across the country have responded with entries on racism, bullying, and war. Last year's winners wrote letters to George Orwell, Mark Doty, and Tim O'Brien.

This annual program for children in grades 4-10 focuses on literacy, the primary mission of the Center for the Book. Over five hundred entries have already been received, and the deadline for this year's contest is January 11, 2013.

At the first International Summit for the Book at the Library of Congress next month, the renowned collector of historic documents, David M. Rubenstein, will talk about the literacy awards project and its part in the conference. It goes without saying that we (readers, book lovers, book collectors) are all in this together, and forwarding the mission of literacy is a worthy cause.

Image above: One of the many pieces of "envelope art" received at the Library of Congress during the LAL contest.