What does the West Boundary have in common with Chicago, Kalamazoo, Seattle, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam? The Reading Link Challenge (RLC).
It was in Chicago—way back in the 1930s— that two school librarians developed a program to test young readers’ knowledge of good literature. This became a weekly radio quiz program known as “The Battle of the Books.”
In the early 1990s, Kalamazoo Public Library revived the challenge as a way to encourage 4th and 5th grade children to have fun and enjoy reading. Next Seattle partnered with Kalamazoo; and then the Challenge hopped north of the border to the Lower Mainland in 2002. The program is now strongly supported by the British Columbia Library Association and Ministry of Education.
It has been in the Boundary for five years now. The Challenge pits two schools against each other – West Boundary Elementary vs. Greenwood/ Midway Elementary; and for the first time Grade students from Big White participated.
In January students are given six books which have been chosen by a team of librarians from the Lower Mainland using criteria such as boy/ girl interest, reading level, multicultural theme, Canadian /B.C. author.
Teams of Grade 4/5 students are formed in each of the schools—up to seven students per team. There were 12 teams between the two schools this year. Each team reads and discusses the books—becoming familiar with the characters, plot, and other facts from the books.
Each school holds an ‘In School Challenge’ to determine which team will represent their school at the Reading Link Challenge Finals – which were held in the West Boundary gym last week— using a different set of questions.
The action was intense. The gym was filled with kids because each school also brought student cheering squads. Questions were asked and scores recorded by librarians and volunteers/ directors from Greenwood and Midway public libraries.
This was the fifth year that the challenge has been held in the Boundary and the students now in Grade 6/7 were among the first to participate when they were in Grade 4/5. This year the older students from each school sent teams to compete for medals.
The Grade 4/5 kids were competing to win a place on the RLC Trophy.
The winning team in 2014 for the Grade 6/7s was the Wild Hot Jellybeans from West Boundary Elementary (Grace Geen, Hanna Harpur, Anna Geen, Bailey Patterson, Faith Zitko and Shivana Sardinha). West Boundary’s Skyfall Readers (Kayden Eaton, Elijah Steele, Skyra Elliot, Wyatt Lasai, Charlie Brunt from Big White) won the trophy.
Teachers who have been involved say the RLC is a fabulous way to motivate kids to read.