Registration for the 2016 AISL Conference is filling up fast! Not yet convinced? I am still using an idea I first learned about during the 2008 Toronto conference! It’s become one of our biggest school-wide literary events each year, and is much anticipated by staff and students alike. This year I had my first ‘when is Red Reads?’ query on the second day of school!
At the 2008 conference, Havergal College librarian Tony Nardi shared information about his school’s reading contest, where six book champions battle it out to be crowned winner. The part that particularly appealed to us, as a grade 1-12 school, is that you didn’t have to have read all of the six books in order to participate. One of our English teachers had the vision for the contest for our school, customized it for SCS, and Red Reads was born!
The theme of this year’s contest is ‘The Book That Taught Me Most About Being a Girl’. Members of our community were invited to submit their nominations on paper or electronically, and we were thrilled that we had submissions from grades 2-12 and staff. A team of judges met to whittle down our hundred or so entries to a top six, and these finalists will present at a special assembly on November 17. After this assembly, members of our community will vote for their favourite presentation, and the person who made the most compelling case, to become our ‘Red Reads’ selection for the year. We follow up with another special assembly in January, focusing on the winning book, its message, and author.
Our six finalists this year are:
1) Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, submitted by a grade 10 student
2) I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, submitted by “Justice and Peace”, a grade 6 / staff duo
3) Alexandria of Africa by Eric Walters, submitted by a grade 8 student
4) The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, submitted by a grade 11 group
5) Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, submitted by a grade 6 duo.
6) Life in Motion by Misty Copeland, submitted by a grade 6 student
The benefits to running a program like this are numerous. It allows us to have school-wide reading festival, it is adaptable for a variety of themes, and it is an excellent focus for our senior school book club. It also increases library traffic, and the chatter about books in the halls! The library does a huge amount of support for this program; we use library periods to share information and discuss Red Reads choices when possible.
As a judge (and advisor), I was not allowed to nominate a book, but I have written an SCS Reads blog post on my choice. I’ll update this post once the winner is announced (in early December). I expect it to be a closely-fought contest this year!
For further information, take a look at an article my co-advisor and I wrote in Independent Teacher Magazine about reading at SCS. It’s a few years old now, but it gives a great overview of the reading culture here at St. Clement’s.
UPDATE!: Our winning book was Life in Motion by Misty Copeland. SCS students and staff are encouraged to read the book over the Christmas vacation in preparation for the follow-up assembly in January.