In this lesson, we invite student to compose a letter responding to an short article in The brand-new York Times and submit it come an upcoming contest.

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The entire contents of the in-basket containing letters to the editor, indigenous April 22, 1996. Associated ArticleCredit...Tony Cenicola/The brand-new York Times

By Natalie Proulx

Published April 23, 2021Updated Sept. 2, 2021

Students in U.S. High schools have the right to get totally free digital accessibility to The brand-new York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

Lesson Overview

Featured Column: “Letters to the Editor

Readers have been creating letters come The new York Times due to the fact that the newspaper was started in 1851. Once Adolph S. Ochs purchased the file in 1896, one of his aims, the wrote, to be to “make the columns that The brand-new York time a forum for the factor to consider of all questions of public importance, and to that finish to invite intelligent conversation from all shades the opinion.”

Today, The times receives approximately 1,000 letter a job from reader from all over the world, a handful of which space selected to be published in the letter to the Editor column. These letters, written by ordinary people and also experts alike, discuss a large array of stories in The time — indigenous vaccines and gun violence to religion, society media, education and family.

What do you need to say around what’s in the news? In this lesson, us invite you to respond come a Times post of her choice. You’ll check out previous letter to see just how the writers expressed strong, clear opinions in simply 150 to 200 words; and also did so through a particular stylishness, wit and also charm. Then, you’ll write your very own letter to the editor and also submit it for publication.

Ideas because that Teachers

Many local newspapers additionally publish letters to the editor. You can use the activities in this lesson setup with any type of publication of your choice.


The letter to the Editor shaft invites reader to respond to an short article in The Times that has appeared within the last 7 days.

What current news stories have recorded your eye? What have you read that has actually outraged you? inspired you? relocated you? happy you? What articles have made you feel “seen” or lugged up a storage from lengthy ago?

Spend a few minutes scrolling v The brand-new York time to watch which headlines speak to you. If girlfriend can’t find anything that interests friend there, choose a section (found in ~ the peak of the residence page), such together Politics, Sports, Science, Style, Smarter Living, world or Opinion, and also skim the current articles.

Choose at least three different articles about which you think you might have something come say, whether it’s a critique, worship or a personal connection. Just make certain that whatever you pick was released within the past week.

You’ll go back to these in the Going additional section.


Choose at least THREE of these letters to the editor created by adolescents that winner the 2020 high college letter-writing competition.

If nobody of these accumulate you, you have the right to choose any kind of three letters from the letter to the Editor column.

Questions because that Writing and Discussion

As you review your liked letters, annotate and take notes around what friend notice. Right here are some concerns to consider:

1. Identify some straightforward parts of the structure of letter to the editor: exactly how do they all begin? how do they every end? Which post is every letter responding to? how do girlfriend know?

2. What is the letter writer’s opinion or point of view on the article they space responding to? Underline or highlight at least one sentence that records the letter’s main idea or argument.

3. The letter editors encourage authors to make their disagreements “forcefully and also clearly.” do the letter you read do that? What words, paragraph or lines convey the writers’ opinions or attitudes toward the topic in a clear, concise and strong way?

4. The letters editors say that readers should have the ability to judge the “credibility and motivation” that letter writers. What credibility, specialization or an individual connections perform the letter writers have to the subjects they space writing about? deserve to you tell what motivated them to create in?

5. analysis the writers’ usage of language and also style. What provides this letter interesting to read? What words, phrases and grammatical structures perform they use that are particularly affecting? just how do they use wit or humor, if at all? In what lines deserve to you hear the writer’s voice coming v the page?

6. amongst the hundreds of letters that are sent to The Times, what carry out you think do these letters stand the end to the editors? What unique angle or perspective did the writers offer on the short articles they commented on? What rather did they carry out well?

7. Which “writer’s moves” from any type of of the letter you read would you like to try in your own letter come the editor?

Going Further

Now, it’s your turn: write a letter come the editor around any Times short article of your choosing.

Step 1: read advice from the letters editors and also writers.

This step is optional, but prior to you pick your article and also write her letter, you can want to discover out what precisely the letters editors space looking for.

In “To the Reader,” thomas Feyer, the letters editor due to the fact that 1999, explains what qualifies as a publishable letter to the editor. Together you read, highlight or underline Mr. Feyer’s suggestions.

You can find even an ext advice in this articles:

Step 2: pick an short article to respond to.

Return come the write-ups you determined in the warm-up activity. Check out them thoroughly and then pick one that you want to respond come in your letter to the editor.

You deserve to write about any issue, large or small, yet keep in mind that timeliness is key, for this reason make sure that every little thing piece you choose was published no much more than 7 days prior to you submit your letter. Mr. Feyer writes, “We’re in an age of fast-moving news and virtually prompt reaction; letters about an especially timely object often show up within a day or 2 (and practically always in ~ a week).”

Step 3: write your letter to the editor.

Here space the requirements:

Letters need to be about 150 come 200 words.

They should include the headline and also a attach to the Times article they space responding to.

They need to refer come an post that has showed up within the last seven days.

Beyond that, her letter have the right to agree or disagree with the principles expressed in the essay or article. And feel complimentary to be creative with your language and also writing style. Usage the letter you read earlier as examples of what renders a great letter come the editor.

Step 4: submit it for publication.

If you are in high school, you have the right to submit your letter come The Times’s annual student letter writing competition until might 3. You re welcome be certain to check out all the rules carefully prior to submitting.

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You can also submit a letter to the editor any time by complying with the instructions here.