Global Reading Challenge
The Global Reading Challenge is a reading incentive program for 4th and 5th graders enrolled in Seattle Public Schools. Students form teams and read 10 books, then take part in a trivia competition to determine the winner for the city of Seattle.
2019 Global Reading Challenge Books
2019 City Final Champions
Congratulations to our winners!
Unusual Students for the Exceptional Librarian
Bryant Elementary School
FAQs About the Global Reading Challenge
What is The Global Reading Challenge?
Our Mission: To encourage reading as a fun and recreational activity that allows 4th and 5th grade students of all reading abilities to engage in the sport of reading. This citywide program is a collaborative effort between The Seattle Public Library and the Seattle Public Schools. Students form teams of 7 and read 10 books, then take part in a trivia competition, answering questions about the books, to determine the winner for the city of Seattle.
Is the goal to read all 10 books?
No. The goal is to read one or two books deeply and to have fun doing it. While participants are welcome to read all 10 books, the books are chosen to reflect a range of reading difficulty and interests. Not all books will be appealing to all readers.
How do I support my child who is participating?
This program values kids directing their own participation and teamwork at school. However, you can support your child by reading the books with them and talking about the stories these books tell. We choose books with diverse perspectives, and sometimes challenging content. We hope that they will lead to conversations that help develop empathy.
How do I sign my child up for the Global Reading Challenge?
Kids can sign up through their school, if their school is participating this year. (See List of Participating Schools)
My child doesn’t attend Seattle Public Schools. Are there more programs like this in the area?
Yes. King County Library System has a Global Reading Challenge for 4th and 5th grade students as well. Sno-Isle Library System has a Global Reading Challenge for 3rd graders. Many other places have “Battle of the Books,” which is an equivalent program.
What is the timeline?
Books are announced on this website on November 1 each year. Schools distribute materials as soon as they can after that. Each school has its own way to participate in Global Reading Challenge, but most kids start reading in November. Each school will have a first round of competition at their school sometime late January to mid-February and choose one team to advance to the Semi-Finals. Semi-Finals rounds take place in late February to early March at the Central Library in the Microsoft Auditorium. Up to ten schools compete in each round. Winning teams from the Semi-Final rounds advance to the City Final, which is on a Tuesday evening in late March. Please see the schedule on this page for exact dates.
When is my school’s In-School Challenge or Semi-Final happening?
Contact your child’s school librarian or classroom teacher. Information on these dates are only available through the schools.
Does it cost money to for my child to participate?
No. It is free.
What are the benefits of this program?
- To promote the love of reading (and have fun).
- To introduce children to a wide variety of literature and multicultural reading materials (and have fun).
- To encourage children to participate in a group activity (and have fun).
- To encourage children to read for retention.
- To provide a positive learning experience for children, librarians, teachers and parents (and have fun).
- To form partnerships with local schools and businesses and strengthen community ties.
- To build confidence and integrity in young readers (and have fun).
- To participate in a public Library activity that promotes reading as a pleasurable lifelong experience.
Where does the money that funds this program come from?
This program is paid for by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and a host of wonderful sponsors. It is donation-funded, not tax funded. We buy a set of 10 books for each participating team and donate those books to Seattle Public Schools Libraries after the competition each year. We sponsor author events for schools, and partner with a variety of community-based homework help sites who support elementary aged reading.
What does the trivia portion of the competition look like?
Teams will sit in circles and be given paper and pencils. Teams may NOT use books during the Challenge. Judges will be asking two or three questions from each of the ten books; each question will be read once and repeated once. Teams will have 30 seconds to talk among themselves, write down their answer to the question, and deliver the answer sheet to the judges’ table. Correct spelling is not required, but the word or words must be identifiable. All questions will be true or false, multiple choice, or short answer. There will be three rounds with eight questions in each round. Each correct answer will earn the team five points. If two or more teams tie for total points after the third round, additional questions will be asked of only those teams; questions will continue until the tie is broken. The team with the highest total points becomes the Advancing Team for that round.
What do you get when you win?
The satisfaction of working on a team and reading great books. There are also small incentive prizes throughout the program. The City Final winners will have their picture on the website until the next winner is announced.
How long has this program been around?
In the late 1930s, two Chicago school librarians developed a program to test young readers’ knowledge of good literature. The program reached thousands of Chicago school children and was quickly turned into a weekly radio quiz program known as “The Battle of the Books.” Questions about characters, plots and settings were answered by teams representing public elementary schools. Answers were usually the titles of well-known fiction books and biographies.
The Global Reading Challenge, designed by Terry Lason of Kalamazoo, MI, uses the Battle of the Books format and promotes the reading of fiction that celebrates the world’s diverse community. Mary Palmer brought the program with her from Kalamazoo Public Library. The first Seattle Global Reading Challenge was in 1995.
We, as a Library system, continue to be committed to choosing books for our challenge that present diverse points of view, and which portray Immigrant, Native American, People of Color, perceived Disability, LGBTQ, Poverty and Homelessness experiences. We are interested in celebrating marginalized communities, opening the door to multicultural stories, and allowing kids the opportunity to engage in a perspective that may not be their own.