Giggles and Competition at the Global Reading Challenge

If you’re a parent of a fourth or fifth grader you may be anxiously awaiting the final round of a very special city-wide competition, The Global Reading Challenge (GRC).  The GRC, an annual contest, drew teams from over 45 schools to the 2012 semifinals on February 22nd. Ten teams that advanced, including Alki, Northgate, Graham Hill, Loyal Heights, and Greenwood, that had never before reached the final round (woo hoo!), will compete in an exciting night-time showdown in the Seattle Central Library’s Microsoft Auditorium on March 27 at 7 p.m. Will you be there?

The GRC, dubbed Battle of the Books, quizzes teams about elements from  ten assigned books. As Joan Abrevaya, Friends of The Seattle Public Library board member and volunteer for The Seattle Public Library, says about her four years of deepening involvement with GRC,  “One of the things that I love is talking to the kids and listening to their excitement and focus on the marvelous thing called reading.  They are as involved in reading these 10 books and answering questions as they are about sports.”

The teams, some with catchy names like, “The Title Waves,” prepare in different ways sometimes with a teacher, a librarian or volunteer. Parents help too, when they can, but many of the contestants come from families where parents are too busy to take on support.  But all children take this competition seriously. As Abrevaya notes, “One parent said that her daughter had a “play date” with some friends, during which they quizzed each other in preparation for the semi-finals.”

The winner of the March 27 contest will advance to face Canadian teams in a videoconferenced international final in early April. “There are tears at every session,” Abrevaya says, “when teams do not win but as Mary [Mary Palmer, children’s librarian and organizer] tells the kids: ‘You are already winners. You have read great books and had a great time.'”

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