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October 28, 2010

Montana's young readers can enter contest for prizes

MISSOULA Letters About Literature, a national reading and writing promotion program, encourages readers in grades four through 12 to write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work changed their view of the world or themselves.

Readers can select authors from any genre - fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. Competition winners will be selected in three grade categories. The program is sponsored in Montana by Humanities Montana and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in partnership with Target.

Judges representing each state's Center for the Book will select the top essayists in the following competition levels: Level I for readers in grades four through six, Level II for grades seven and eight, and Level III for grades nine through 12. State winners will receive a $50 Target gift card and a cash award and certificate from Humanities Montana.

Each state winner then will advance to the national competition. A panel of judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select six national winners, two per competition level, and 12 national runners-up, four per competition level.

Each national winner will receive a $500 Target gift card. In addition, they will win a $10,000 Reading Promotion Grant for their school or community library. The national winners will be instrumental in deciding how the library funds will be spent.

The 12 national runners-up will win a $100 Target gift card, as well as a Reading Promotion Grant of $1,000 for their school or community library.

The deadline for entries is Friday, Dec. 10. Contest guidelines and teaching materials, including lesson plans, blackline masters, writing samples and assessment checklists, can be found online at

Letters About Literature is one of the Center for the Book's most successful literacy programs for adolescents. Last year more than 70,000 young people from across the nation entered the competition.

Montana students have won or placed in the national contest four times in the past 10 years, said Kim Anderson, associate director of Humanities Montana programs. More than 600 Montana students entered the contest last year.

A nonprofit organization founded in 1972, Humanities Montana is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Humanities Montana grants have served Montanans with thousands of public conferences, lectures, workshops, exhibits, and television, radio, film and video productions, as well as awards for research and book publication subvention.

More information about Humanities Montana is online at

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