Today I had the pleasure to witness 450-500 children excited about books, lots of books. Today was the 3rd annual District Reading Games. Having just moved into the district I was unfamiliar with the Reading Games. I knew there were tributes, and I knew that the odds may not always be in your favor and that was it. Turns out this is a really awesome idea.
Reading Games registration opened in November and my daughter had been invited to be on a team. Only 90 teams could register and each team had between 5 and 8 members. The teams could choose between level 1 books and level 2 books, both levels having about 15 books to read. My daughter’s team divided up the reading load and read 5 books each. She, being an avid reader, read a couple others for fun and reread the ones on her list just before the competition. They met every so often to discuss the books and ask each other questions in preparation for the big day. She was both excited to participate and anxious to see what was in store. Would their be a cornucopia? Would a team member have to be sacrificed?
Today was the day of the Reading Games competition. No team could bring the books or notes with them. They had to rely on their memory and their teammates. I was chosen as a scorekeeper, which allowed me to see how the competition occurs. There were 3rd graders against 5th graders (3rd graders won that round). There were mixed grade levels against single grade levels. There were school teams against other school teams. Each team had to go through 3 rounds of 20 questions each. Points were tallied and scorecards turned in. But even amidst the competitive nature of the games, I witnessed teamwork, and sportsmanship. I witness kids congratulating each other on a job well done. But most importantly I witnessed kids excited about books.
At the end of the games, every team met in the gym to announce the winners. Your points determine whether you placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd and every team walks away with a prize. Every kid was cheering on every other kid in that gym. Pride was a powerful feeling in the room. Kids wanted to win gift baskets of books donated by the authors. They showed off their ribbons. They high-fived each other on their achievement. They began to plan for next year. As for my daughter, she plans to do this again next year, only this time she wants to be a team leader. Reading Games was a powerful motivator for getting kids to read.
“May the books be ever in your favor”