Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun 'Challenges' Engage
Kids, Families in Reading

A couple weeks ago, kids lined the sidewalk in front of a Buckhannon (West Virginia) Academy Elementary School as their teachers raced by in teams of two. Since it was just before Halloween, teachers dressed in football uniforms, pink rubber boots, and toilet paper might not have seemed such an odd sight -- except for the fact the costume-clad educators were pushing each other on office chairs!

The office chair race was actually a reward for students. They earned the goofy high-speed event by reading more than 9,000 books this past summer.

“This was a great activity for the kids,” said Principal Randall Roy, who emceed the race. “They had a great time.” [read more]

Meanwhile, halfway across the country reading specialist Sandy Lambert and Principal Kim Lasanby-Barber dressed as pirates and “walked the plank” as students cheered them on. The pirate-themed celebration was the culminating activity of the fall reading challenge at Lincoln School in Spring Valley, Illinois. Students earned the reward by exceeding the goal of reading for 80,000 minutes. The school’s 200 students read for a total of 196,310 minutes. [read more]


Principals and teachers across the country will do all sorts of crazy things to encourage students to pick up books. Here are just a handful of examples of schools that are in the middle of “reading challenges” as I type.

This week, students at William E. Young School in Homer Glen, Illinois, are involved in a 100,000-minute reading challenge. “If 95 percent of Young Elementary students read 30 minutes a night, that means our school will have read 100,000 minutes total in just one week,” said Principal Michael Szopinski. If students achieve the goal, Szopinski will help get kids in the holiday spirit by donning reindeer antlers and a blinking red reindeer nose during the week of November 29. [read more]

If all goes according to plan, students at Stafford (Texas) Primary School will see their principal, Kim Yen Vu, perched atop a dunking booth next spring. The year-long “Principal’s Reading Challenge” has been going on at Stafford for a few years. Back in 2008, Vu kissed a pig when students reached their goal. This past year, she sat atop a wall -- the school’s marquee -- dressed as Humpty Vu-mpty. This year, teachers and students “aim” to see Principal Vu soaked. [read more]

Students at Bonneville Elementary School in Orem, Utah -- where the school mascot is a bronco -- are enjoying a year-long “Top Bronco” reading challenge. Parents log students’ at-home reading minutes on monthly calendars. The goal is for K-2 students to read 50 hours during the school year and grade 3-6 readers to read 75 hours, explained Principal Shawn Brooks. To keep students motivated, a “half-way-there” banana split party will be held in January to recognize students who have achieved at least half their goal. A special “Double Club” movie party will be held in May for students who read double their goal. [read more]

At West Rocks Middle School in Norwalk, Connecticut, students are taking on the “Read Around the World Reading Challenge.” Students earn “miles” for each book they read on their way to 29,000 miles. To be precise, a trip around Earth is 24,901 miles, but students will be stopping off in -- and learning about -- a variety of the world’s major cities as they travel toward their goal. “As students participate in the Read Around the World Reading Challenge they will receive raffle tickets and become eligible to win prizes,” added Dr. Lynne C. Moore, the school principal. [read more]

At Burr Intermediate School in Commack, New York, the “Burr Reading Challenge” encourages students to make reading a daily habit, and special events help motivate them to read more. For example, during October students wrote book reviews on paper bags supplied by local supermarkets. The “paper bag book reviews” are on display throughout the school this week (American Education Week), and after the week is done they will be donated back to the supermarkets so the bags can be shared with the community. Reading becomes a community event in other ways at Burr. From October 25 to December 3, students are involved in their annual Ronald McDonald House Read-a-Thon. Last year, the read-a-thon raised more than $2000 for the Ronald McDonald House. Students also collected books to donate to a Suffolk County homeless shelter. [read more]

We would love to hear your story of what your school is doing to motivate student reading. Just POST A COMMENT to share your story so that others might benefit from one more idea.


Find more ideas for motivating student reading in these Education World articles:

Principals’ Feats Fuel Fabulous Reading
What would students do to see their principal throw cow chips, spend a night on the roof, or get slimed? It turns out that they will do a great deal -- of reading! Included: From becoming ice cream sundaes to singing songs and kissing pigs, see what principals have done to encourage their students to read.

Principals Make Reading a School-Wide Goal
Students pledge to read thousands of pages… First- and fifth-graders buddy up for reading… Those events and others are part of school-wide reading programs at two Minnesota schools. Included: Additional activities to help make reading a school-wide goal.

Reading Fun
Are you looking for a special project that will excite your students about reading? You have come to the right place! We have gathered together dozens of Education World articles that will turn every week into Book Week at your school.

1 comment:

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