Monthly Archives: October 2015

Letters About Literature

boy writingEach year, the Center for the Book sponsors the  “Letters About Literature” contest. Readers in grades 4-12 are invited to write a personal letter to an author for the contest, which is a national reading and writing program. The letter can be to any author (living or dead) from any genre explaining how that author’s work changed the reader’s life or view of the world.

Prizes will be awarded on both the state and national levels. The North Dakota Center for the Book’s panel of judges will select the top letter writers in the state. Their winning letters will be published online at the North Dakota State Library’s website. North Dakota winners will also receive monetary prizes and then advance to the national judging.

  • Submissions from Grades 9-12 must be postmarked by December 4, 2015.
  • Submissions from Grades 4-8 must be postmarked by January 11, 2016.

Please visit for more information and entry forms. If you would like to incorporate this into your classroom lessons, there is also a Teaching Guide.

The 23rd annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress, in partnership with the North Dakota Center for the Book and the North Dakota State Library.

If you have further questions about the North Dakota contest, please contact Shari Mosser at the North Dakota State Library at or 701-328-3252.

Test Your Skills at the Library

Clock[1]This month I’ve rounded up some ideas for self-directed skill test stations. These links are variations on ninja skills and “Minute to Win It” style games. They can be set up with simple instructions for kids to test themselves or play against others.

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Skill Stations at erinisinire – these stations are TMNT themed, but the games work whether you choose to brand them or not
  • Ninja Challenge at Catch the Possibilities – a thorough list of skills to test, these were staffed stations and some will require more space than others
  • Cup Stacking at hushlander – engaging for kids who think they’re too old to play with blocks
  • Minute to Win It games at Ms. Kelly at the Library – the Halloween theme is perfect for October, but the games can be easily adapted for other themes
  • 60 Second Challenge Activities at NEO Today – 5 challenges for school-aged kids that includes a complete list of supplies

While some of these are timed activities, kids can become quite engaged in trying to improve their performances. In addition to being quick and self-directed, these activities all use fairly basic, inexpensive, and easy to obtain items. You may have noticed that several of the activities used supplies that were leftover from another program.

Have you tried skill challenge stations like these in your library? How did it go? Share your ideas and suggestions in the comments!