Reading Olympics competition nears
Teams from 12 area schools compete in Reading Olympics. The district competitions take place at the Oak Park Public Library and the River Forest Public Library. | Contributed photo
Updated: December 24, 2012 6:13AM
OAK PARK — Fifth graders at all 12 Oak Park and River Forest schools will have a chance to bond this winter and spring over a shared love of reading.
The students will compete next month in the Reading Olympics competition.
Sponsored by the Oak Park and River Forest public libraries, Reading Olympics is a literature enrichment program that fuses public school Districts 90 and 97 with private schools St. Luke, St. Giles and Grace Lutheran for a series of reading competitions held throughout the year.
Between 15 and 30 students from each school form groups of three students, who receive nine books from a designated list to read between September and December. The first Olympic round is held in December, where the students are pitted against each other and quizzed on the first set of books.
A second round is held in March to quiz the teams on a second batch of nine books the participants are assigned.
In April, the final championship round covers all 18 books the teams read throughout the competition, and the team that comes out on top with the best score takes home a plaque with the name of their school and names of the team members. The winners are showcased at their school and both public libraries.
The Reading Olympics program was started nearly 18 years ago by an Oak Park librarian with the goal of fostering a stronger interest in reading among fifth graders.
“As they get older, their interest in reading seems to decrease, so this is a great way to keep them interested,” said Katie Noonan, a librarian and teacher at Washington Irving School in Oak Park. “When they finish the program, we have them talk to the fourth graders about their experiences, to encourage them to do it next year.”
A team of librarians gets together during the summer before the school year starts and picks out a new set of books for the designated reading list each year.
This year’s list incorporates newer titles such as The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, with traditional tales such as Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.
“The program has been really successful in encouraging enjoyment of reading,” Noonan said. “A lot of them will tell us at the end that they never would have chosen to read these books on their own, but they were glad they did because they really enjoyed them.”
Students also learn to work together as a team to answer questions and to complete reading assignments by deadline.
The first round of this year’s Reading Olympics will be held on Fri., Dec. 7 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.