The parking lot at Souderton Area High School was overflowing with cars last night, but it wasn’t for a baseball game or even for the school play. Instead, over 500 area students and their families were gathered for Reading Olympics, with about a fifth of them coming from Pottstown. The yearly event, sponsored in our area by the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, brings students together to test their knowledge of an extensive book list.
“We are thrilled to have one of the most successful and growing programs in the county that supports reading. In 12 years, we have more than quadrupled the number of participating students,” said Maria Johns, who organizes the event for the MCIU’s Division of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development.
For my own daughter, who is in fourth grade this year, the reading frenzy started in the fall, when she and about 20 of her classmates decided to give up valuable recess time and tackle a reading list of more than 40 books. The list includes Newbery Award-winning books like Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins and kid favorites like Bunnicula and Judy Moody. The event not only encourages kids to read, but gets them to read beyond what they would normally choose for themselves. The favorites from this year’s list for my daughter were Rules, Flush, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and When You Reach Me. The intermediate unit, along with reading specialists, librarians and grade level teachers select the book list each year, read the books themselves and then devise the questions.
Although the event is a celebration of reading rather than a contest, with teams accumulating points to earn ribbons, the kids take it very seriously. Some questions last night, like the one about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, were met with knowing smiles, while others left teams scratching their heads for the answer.
Eleven teams with a total of over 100 kids competed from the five elementary schools in Pottstown: Barth, Lincoln, Edgewood, Franklin and Rupert. The hard work of teachers and students alike went into making the whole event a success.
For more information about the event, you can visit the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. And, if you have a budding reader in your home, at any grade level through high school, you will want to check that website for the 2012 list which should be out in May.