Global Reading Champs

Neon Yellow Pies Global Reading Team

2009 Global Reading Champs from B.F. Day - photo provided by Gil Hedges-Blanquez

An edited version of a column by Kirby Lindsay, for

On Wednesday, February 24, a very important, and very popular, all-school assembly will take place at B.F. Day Elementary.  This is the first level of the Global Reading Challenge – a program of Seattle Public Library (SPL) for Seattle Public School students – and it will feature 4th & 5th graders, divided into teams of seven students each, responding to questions about 10 specific books. 

According to School Librarian Gil Hedges-Blanquez (or ‘Mr. Gil’ as he is known to simply everyone at the school), B.F. Day has participated in this competition since 2002, when they won the entire Challenge.  Then, in 2009, they took first place again!

Competitive Reading?

Mary Palmer, Children’s Librarian at the SPL Downtown Branch, reported that 45 Seattle schools will take part in the Challenge this year, including Greenwood, Broadview-Thompson, and John Stanford International (a complete list is available on the Global Reading home page).  The list of books team members must read comes from the SPL, who posted the books for 2010 last November. 

To get on a team, Mr. Gil explained, B.F. Day teachers require that students read all ten books.  From there, he has recommended that teams divide up the list, and members select two titles on which to specialize.

When the first competition begins, Mr. Gil reported, “it’s quite a spectacle!”  As teams compete in semi-final rounds, younger students and classmates cheer on chosen favorites.  Everyone picks a team – by friendship, kinship or a ‘Reading Buddies’ relationship – to cheer on.  Competitors answer questions – true or false, multiple choice and short answer – in written form, and after consultation among team members.

The top team at B.F. Day will compete against teams from each of the other Seattle Schools – and the top two teams will emerge.  These teams will proceed to the global portion of the competition – a ‘face off’ against two finalist teams from schools of Fraser Valley and Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada.

“The kids look forward to it,” Mr. Gil repeated several times.  The program promotes teamwork, reading and writing plus encouraging younger kids, through a truly fun atmosphere.  He voiced concern over budget cuts jeopardizing a truly outstanding opportunity, but Palmer quickly pointed out that the Challenge isn’t funded by the SPL budget.

Instead, generous outside sources – Target, the Seattle Public Library Foundation, Northwest Literacy Foundation and the Ballard Rotary Club – sponsor this program.  As Palmer expressed her gratitude to organizations that make the Challenge possible, she also admitted, “it makes a sport of reading.”

So, Fremonsters everywhere may don their cheerleading gear and root on our favorite team – GO B.F. DAY!!

©2010 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.                   


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