Frequently Asked Questions

My Favorite Book FAQs

Eligibility and Deadlines

Who is eligible to participate?
My Favorite Book is open to residents of Oklahoma. Students attending public, private, or homeschools are eligible. Students must be in grades 4 through 12 during the 2021-2022 school year to participate. Students younger than 13 years of age (as of October 15, 2021) must obtain and upload a permission form signed by a parent or legal guardian to be eligible for entry.

When can the student submit his/her letter?
Entries will be accepted online starting October 15, 2021.

What is the deadline to submit letters?
Letters must be submitted by December 17, 2021, 5:00 p.m. (CST).

Can a student submit more than one letter?
No. Only one entry is allowed per student each contest year.

What can disqualify an entry?
Please see the official rules for full details.

  • Personal contact information such as an address, email or phone number included anywhere in the letter, including the header or footer. These entries cannot be distributed to judges and must be disqualified. (Contact information will be collected in the online entry form, but should not be part of the letter.)
  • Not meeting or exceeding the word count; entries must be at least 400 words and no longer than 800 words (including date, greeting, body of the letter, closing salutation and name/signature).
  • Not formatting the entry with all elements of a letter: date, greeting, body of the letter, closing salutation and name/signature.
  • Submitting multiple entries. (Students may only submit one letter.)
  • Emailing or mailing the letter to the Oklahoma Center for the Book. (Students must submit their letters using the online entry form.)
  • Not submitting a completed, hand-signed parent/guardian permission form for students 13 and under. (All students under 13, regardless of their grade, must submit a permission form hand-signed by their parent or legal guardian to participate.)
  • Submitting previously published or plagiarized work, or work that the student has submitted to other contests.
  • Submitting an entry in the incorrect level of competition, which is based on the student’s grade.
  • Submitting a hand-written or illegible letter. (At this time, My Favorite Book does not require entries to use a specific font or font size, but does require that all entries be typed and legible.)

Contest Guidelines

What are the competition levels?
Level I: grades 4-6; Level II: grades 7-8; Level III: grades 9-12.

What are the prizes and recognition for winners?
First-place winners receive $500; second-place winners receive $250; and third-place winners receive $100. The winners will be honored at the My Favorite Book Awards ceremony in May 2022.

First-place winners will select their school library or public library to receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Is there a word limit for the letters?
Yes, entries must be no fewer than 400 words and no more than 800 words (including date, greeting, body of the letter, closing salutation and name/signature).

May letters be submitted in a language other than English?
No. At this time, only letters submitted in English are eligible.

May a student write to an author who is no longer living?
Yes.

What form of literature should students select?
Students should select a fiction or nonfiction book, book series, short story, or essay that they have read and about which they have strong feelings. We ask that teachers not assign a particular work to students; rather, allow students to choose a piece of literature that speaks to them personally.

May students write a letter to God about the Bible?
For the purposes of this contest, please address all letters about any religious text to the attributed human author of the particular book (or comparable portion of religious text) read by the student.

Will winning letters be published?
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries will publish the honored students' names, ages, schools, and cities on the agency's website. ODL would also like to publish all first-, second-, and third-place letters at all three competition levels. ODL will contact the parents or guardians of the winning students to obtain a signed "permission to publish" form. Winning students eighteen years or older will sign their own "permission to publish" form.

Submitting Letters

Where should entries be submitted?
All entries must be submitted via the online entry form.

Can entries be submitted by mail rather than online?
No. All entries much be submitted via the online entry form.

How do I submit an entry?
If you are a student or parent, please see the students' page for instructions on submitting your entry. Teachers should see the teacher’s page for instructions, as well as the teacher’s section of this FAQ.

Do I need a permission form to enter?
Students younger than 13 years of age (as of October 15, 2021) must submit a permission form hand-signed by a parent or legal guardian in order to participate.

How should home-schooled students enter?
Home-schooled students may enter individually with parent/legal guardian assistance or may enter with teacher assistance—whichever is most practical for their situation.

In what format should I submit a letter?
Letters may be submitted in doc, docx, pdf, jpg, and png formats. Do not share a link to a Google Doc. As a state agency, the Oklahoma Department of Libraries is restricted from using Google Docs due to security concerns. Letters composed on Google Docs should be downloaded and saved in one of the specified formats before submitting via the online entry form.

Can I write the letter in the online entry form?
Yes, there is a place to type your letter directly within the entry form. (This should be considered a last option. The form does not save progress and must be completed in one sitting.)

What should I do if I need to update my entry or made an error when completing the form?
Email info@libraries.ok.gov with your concern. We can delete your entry so you can resubmit. You must contact us in order to resubmit an entry or both entries will be eliminated from the contest. You must contact us to delete your entry with enough time for you to resubmit it before the December 17 (5:00pm) deadline.

Will I get a confirmation email of my entry?
No automatic emails will be sent. You will only receive a confirmation if you contact us and request a confirmation or copy of your submission. You can email info@libraries.ok.gov and put My Favorite Book in the subject line. Then specify if you want a confirmation that your entry was received or if you would like an emailed copy of your entry.

Judging Process

Who judges the letters?
Judges include authors, publishers, librarians, literary professionals and educators.

What criteria are used to judge the letters?
Letters are evaluated based on (1) how well they address the audience (the author) and the purpose/theme of the contest; (2) grammar; (3) the student’s adherence to including all elements of a letter; (4) personal and reflective content; (5) and creative and unique expression.

How does the judging take place?
Judges do their initial evaluation of the letters online (Rounds 1 and 2) followed by an in-person gathering where Judges select the top letters (Rounds 3 and 4).

Round 1: Entries are evaluated for basic eligibility and by how well they address the audience and the purpose/theme of the contest. The judges ask these questions: Is the essay in letter format, and does it address the author of the work? Does the essay address the contest theme of how an author’s work changed the reader’s view of self or the world? Is personal reflection evident in the letter? Entries that are book summaries or fan letters will be eliminated. Entries that are not in letter format and are written about the author, rather than to the author, will be eliminated. Letters that meet the criteria above will advance to Round 2.

Round 2: Entries are evaluated for grammar and writing. Judges ask: Is the letter written in a clear and organized way with specific details to support the letter’s main ideas? Does the letter express ideas creatively, communicating a unique or powerful point of view? These letters are evaluated with a scoring guide, which examines all five criteria (addresses audience and theme, grammar, letter format, content and expression), and they receive a numerical score. Letters that are formulaic, without evidence of a writer’s voice, will be eliminated. Single-paragraph letters and those with significant grammatical errors will also be eliminated. Letters that meet the criteria above will advance to Round 3 and 4 level judging.

Round 3: Letters that advance past the first and second round are evaluated during a day of live and in-person judging at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries; entries are evaluated with the scoring guide, which examines all five criteria (addresses audience and theme, grammar, letter format, content and expression) and receive a numerical score.

Round 4: The top 10-20 entries in each level are then evaluated again with the scoring guide, which examines all five criteria (addresses audience and theme, grammar, letter format, content and expression) and receive a numerical score.

Who notifies the Oklahoma winners and when?
The Oklahoma Center for the Book Executive Director will notify the winners by the end of March 2022.

Teachers

What educational value does My Favorite Book have for my students?
Research supports the link between reading and writing: children who read, write better; children who write, read more. My Favorite Book challenges students by asking that they write to a particular audience (the author of a book rather than a teacher) with a specific purpose (to explain or describe his or her personal reader response to the work). By encouraging personal response and reflective writing, the contest encourages meaningful reading and helps to create successful writers.

Does My Favorite Book meet curriculum standards for reading and writing?
Literature can be a tool to help students achieve curriculum standards relative to reading comprehension and writing persuasively, especially if the instructor challenges students to move beyond mere self-to-text connections and focus instead on critical thinking and creative expression.

What is the best way to engage my students with My Favorite Book?
My Favorite Book asks students to connect personally with a work that has affected their view of themselves or the world. The letters with the best reflective, personal writing are from students who have directly chosen a book that they have read and about which they have strong feelings. Teachers should not assign a particular work to students. We also encourage teachers to help students focus their letters on personal reflection and the impact of the book on the student, rather than primarily summarizing the book with book report elements or including many questions to the author.

How do I or my students submit entries with the online submission platform?
There are several options for classes submitting entries with the online submission platform. Please note that if any of your students are younger than 13 years of age, a permission form hand-signed by their parent or legal guardian is required to submit their entry.

Teachers with older students with access to computers may prefer to have students enter their own letters themselves. When completing the online entry form, these students should select that they are submitting for themselves with “teacher assistance” and enter the school name and the teacher’s email address in the appropriate fields.

The online submission platform also supports teachers entering submissions on behalf of their students. Use your contact information. When you complete the form, please enter your school name and address in the appropriate field. If you are entering more than one entry, you do not have to fill out the school address each time. Just make sure you put your name and name of school on each subsequent entry. You will need to enter the student’s name, age, grade, and the author they chose to write to.

If your student is younger than 13 years of age, you will be required to submit a completed and signed parent/legal guardian permission form. If we do not receive a permission form signed by a parent/legal guardian, the entry will be disqualified.

Can teachers submit all their students’ entries at the same time?
No. If you are submitting entries for your students, you must submit a new entry form for each student.

What should teachers do if they have students younger than 13?
Each student younger than 13 as of October 15, 2021, will need a permission form completed and signed by the parent or legal guardian to participate. If you submit all the entries in the online platform on behalf of your students, each time you complete the form for a student younger than 13, you will need to upload a copy of their permission form for the entry to qualify.

Do you have certificates of participation for students who enter?
Yes. You may download or print certificates of participation for your students for their My Favorite Book submission. You can download them at libraries.ok.gov/my-favorite-book.

Parents/Legal Guardians

If I have a child who wins, will that child's name and/or letter be published?
The Oklahoma Department of Libraries will publish the honored students' names, ages, schools, and cities on the agency's website. ODL would also like to publish all first-, second-, and third-place letters at all three competition levels. ODL will contact the parents or guardians of the winning students to obtain a signed "permission to publish" form. Winning students eighteen years or older will sign their own "permission to publish" form.

My child is in third grade but reads on a higher level. Can he/she still enter?
Unfortunately, no. Our official rules state that a student must be in at least grade 4 to enter.

Additional Information

Are the letters delivered to the authors?
In some cases, winning letters are shared with the author. In general, students who wish to send their letters to the author will need to send them directly to the author, as well as to My Favorite Book. NOTE: My Favorite Book does not provide authors’ addresses.

Is a letter ever disqualified for plagiarism?
Yes. The reader-response concept of this writing assignment makes plagiarism less likely. In some cases, our judges may question the authenticity of a letter. If there is a question that an adult might have written a letter for a student, the teacher or the parent will be contacted to confirm the work is the student’s own.

What if a student fabricates personal details, like having a sibling, in order to make his or her letter more appealing?
If the details provided by the student within the letter are fabricated and not factual, the letter will be eliminated from competition. My Favorite Book encourages students to think critically about their personal reaction to a book’s character or conflict.