Pompeii Pineapples. Stuffie Activists. Axolotl, Gods of Reading. What do they have in common? They’re all champion literary teams from across the city in this year’s Global Reading Challenge!
The Foundation is a proud longtime sponsor of the Challenge, a partnership between The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Public Schools to promote recreational reading for fourth and fifth graders. It provides more than 9,000 books and audiobooks through dozens of schools and community partner sites, and this year involved more than 2,900 students. Schools form teams, with all kinds of creative names and costumes, to read eight books chosen by librarians, then enter trivia contests at their schools.
The winning teams move on to the semi-finals, and from there to the all-city finals, which took place virtually on Tuesday. Librarians asked detailed questions (like the ingredients needed for a recipe from “Hockey Night in Kenya“) and the eight finalist teams demonstrated their knowledge in a high-speed quiz. Congratulations to all the teams for an amazing performance, and to the Pompeii Pineapples from TOPS K-8 for coming out on top!
The program incentivizes reading for students at a critical age, when many kids – particularly boys, English language learners, or those reading below their grade level – may struggle with or lose interest in reading. Librarians selected this year’s books and graphic novels to engage reluctant readers and elevate stories that reflect diverse communities and identities. Programming such as author talks and outreach to community partners helped create even more excitement and engagement around the competition.
Participation in the program has grown steadily since it began in 1996, and over the past two years libraries, teachers, and families have worked hard to ensure equitable access during remote or hybrid learning environments. Investments in digital materials and technology have been critical for students to connect with their classrooms, join book groups, attend author events, and otherwise stay involved in this shared reading journey – investments that are possible with generous donor support from partners such as the Northwest Literacy Foundation, Ballard Rotary, and individual donors who contribute to the Foundation.
This week’s finals – full of excited young readers, dedicated educators, and more than 100 parents and supporters cheering along virtually – showcased why the Global Reading Challenge remains a highlight for kids and families across the city.