A Novel Way to Get Kids to Read

Josie Leavitt - October 12, 2010

In Vermont we have a kid-voted-on book award called the Dorothy Canfield Award. Every year a committee chooses 30 books from the previous year, then kids from grades four through eight vote on the ones they like the best. Kids have to read at least five books to be able to vote. Teachers do their best to get the kids interested in the books, but in our local school, the librarian has come up with a challenge that has gotten the kids really fired up.
Melanie Chambers (not her real name — I didn’t have time to check with her), the librarian, has thrown the gauntlet down: if the kids in the school read a total of 1000 DCF books by the end of March she will dye her hair blue. Wow. Blue. And it’s a permanent dye. Essentially, she is challenging each student to read a minimum of 10 books. The day she announced this challenge our store was brimming with kids eager to pick out DCF books for the weekend. Is this bribery? Yes and no. It’s fun and there’s nothing wrong with it. Kids are excited about reading and their librarian has made it fun. They have plenty of time to read the books. It’s a collaborative effort designed to get all the kids reading.
The beauty of the DCF list is the kids really have ownership of it because they get to choose the winner. The winning author comes to Vermont for an enormous celebration where all kids from every school in Vermont get to attend. It’s a big deal and it can bring some really big names to the state who might otherwise not come to Vermont.
We’re working with the school to support this effort by having a very small in-school book fair that features only the 30 DCF books. Easy for us, a money maker for the school and it makes a blue-headed librarian one step closer to reality. I’m all for that.

1 thought on “A Novel Way to Get Kids to Read

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *