Head of School Blog

Reading Olympics: Creating Lifelong Readers

Jill Singleton
Each year when students return in January, our annual reading campaign is launched and students are off and reading – racing for Gold, Silver or Bronze medals. Over the years teachers, parents and students have all shared that the six-week experience serves to inspire children to become better readers.
Each year the campaign features a common read that children in all grades can enjoy, and this year’s pick – Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book – was a big hit. Ms. Sejal reported that Nursery students loved the book so much they requested a sequel, which of course does not yet exist! “Reading Olympics builds confidence in everyone who participates, said Fourth Grade Teacher Colleen Nguyen. “Students who normally don’t read with regularity suddenly are having conversations with their friends during snack and break times about books they enjoyed. I have had emails from families that say they enjoy the reading Olympics because it causes their child who normally needs reminders to read without (them)!”

Students at All Saints love the Reading Olympics and many are determined to earn a medal. This year’s results are impressive. All students in Nursery-Second Grade earned Gold medals, and students in Grades 3-8 earned 75 Gold, two Silver, and five Bronze medals. Additionally, one student in each class was selected to receive the prestigious “Teacher’s Choice” award for actions that demonstrate significant personal improvement as a reader, or a remarkable commitment to the campaign. “While the Teacher’s Choice award might suggest a fierce competition, it’s more of a celebration by the whole class,” said Division Head, Robyn Clanton. “This year, when the Teacher’s Choice Awards were announced, classmates cheered and sincerely celebrated those who won.”

Of course it’s not all about the reward. “Students start off reading to earn a medal and wind up reading because they love reading,” said First Grade teacher, Rachael Beesley. “In some cases, even after the Reading Olympics is over, extended family reading times continue to be part of everyday life.” When asked to share what they love about the program, students agreed that reading for pleasure is the key. “I like the Reading Olympics because after it’s over you read more and you enjoy it more,” said Third Grader, Oona. Her friend Michelle agrees: “I like the reading Olympics because you get to learn new things about the world and read a lot!”

Readers of all abilities express enthusiasm for the campaign. Whether just beginning to “crack the code” or being established as a daily reader, all students benefit from six weeks of intentional reading. “While Reading Olympics supports all students by celebrating reading, I’m amazed each year when it gives burgeoning readers a jump start and helps tentative new readers really develop an interest and love of reading,” said Lower School Division Head, Nicole Berhaupt.

“Our Eighth Graders this year are such avid readers that they didn’t even need the incentive of Reading Olympics,” reported Mrs. Vino. “One of my students, who went on to win the Teacher’s Choice award, read for 12 hours one day when she was home sick from school. I would have watched television or movies all day!”

In addition to all of these wonderful reasons to support the Reading Olympics, funds raised through the campaign go directly back to students in the form of literacy-related initiatives, including the purchase of summer reading books and literacy-related assembly programs.
Perhaps Fourth Grader, Mazin, said it best with four simple words: “I love to read!”

Questions? Comments? Ideas? I’d love to hear them – email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com