Middle School Reading Olympics 2012


The combination of the National Year of Reading with the London Olympics  provided a golden opportunity for us to run a Reading Olympics competition for all our Middle School boys.  The boys were challenged to see who could read the most in the 8 weeks leading up to and during the London Olympics, and this was a perfect way to not only link reading with sport but to also reward a non-sporting achievement.

The 16 Middle School classes divided neatly into 4 sporting teams and 4 countries, and each boy was given a score-sheet based on his country and team.  Each 10 pages read represented one point, and medals were awarded according to how many points were earned – 2000, 3000 and 4000 for Years 6 and 7, and 3000, 4000 and 5000 for Year 8. The boys whole-heartedly rose to the challenge and we ended up awarding 111 individual medals – 55 gold, 23 silver and 33 bronze – while the overall winners of each sporting team and country received trophies. The most successful team was the Athletics team with 49 medals, the Australian team came second with 34 medals and the Cycling team placed third with 31 medals.

Individually, the winning students read 19137 pages, 13961 pages, 12813 pages, 12385 pages and 12008 pages.

During the 8 weeks of the competition, 1344 books were recorded as read; in reality this number would have been much higher because boys who were not in the competition were also reading. In all, it was a very enjoyable and highly successful competition promoting books, reading and literacy.

See our team lists and score sheets here:




Patrick Ness – Chaos Walking Trilogy

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness  Patrick Ness  the-ask-and-the-answer-by-patrick-ness  Monsters front cover jpeg

Author Patrick Ness has become a worldwide sensation with the release of his highly-acclaimed Chaos Walking series – The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer. Todd Hewitt is 13 years old and the youngest boy in Prentiss Town, a harsh and brutal place where men can hear each other’s thoughts, and where there are no women. Todd’s only friend is his talking dog, Manchee, until they stumble across a place in the swamp where there is no noise – and discover Viola.  Together they flee to Haven from the violent army of men determined to hunt them down, but Haven is not the refuge they had hoped it would be.

While the idea of ‘noise’ is creative and original, the books’ real substance is in the conflicts that occur in Todd’s mind, the decisions he makes on his way to becoming a man, and in the questions Patrick Ness raises in the readers’ minds about the reasons for war.  The third book in the series – Monsters of Men – is due to be released in the UK, Ireland and Australia in May this year.

Patrick will be touring New Zealand and Australia in February and March this year. In Queensland he will be presenting a public lecture at Queensland University of Technology on 15 March at 6pm, and he will also be presenting at the Somerset Celebration of  Literature Festival – 17-19 March on the Gold Coast. Check the Walker Books website for more details.

Web 2.0 Tools to Reach Teen Readers

When I was at NECC last year I was challenged listening to Anita Beaman speak about using Web 2.0 tools to promote reading.

Buffy Hamilton – The Unquiet Librarian – has taken this further, and has put together an impressive and extensive list of links showing how YA literature publishers and authors are using Web 2.0 to reach teen readers where they are today:


YA Lit 2.0

Check out her links about:

DailyLit: Read Books by Email or RSS




DailyLit is a site where busy people can sign up to receive short installments of books via email or RSS feed.  Many of these titles cost money (generally $5-$10), however over 800 titles are completely free!  It’s worth having a look at the site if you don’t have time to sit down and read a book, but have time to read a short 3-5 minute excerpt as you check your email. You can also join the online community and contribute to the forum discussions, as well as adding your own ratings and reviews.

According to the site creators, “We got the idea for DailyLit after the New York Times serialized a few classic works in special supplements a few summers ago. We wound up reading books that we had always meant to simply by virtue of making them part of our daily routine of reading the newspaper. The only thing we do more consistenly than read the paper is read email. Bingo! We put together a first version and began reading “War of the Worlds” and “Pride and Prejudice“. We showed it to friends, added more books and features at their request, and presto, DailyLit was born.”

“You can read your installments wherever you receive e-mail/RSS feeds, including on your Blackberry and iPhone. Installments arrive in your Inbox according to the schedule you set (e.g. 7:00am every weekday). You can read each installment in under 5 minutes (most folks finish in 2-3 minutes), and, if you have more time to read, you can receive additional installments immediately on demand. Our titles include bestselling and award winning titles, from literary fiction and romance to language learning and science fiction.”

If this type of reading doesn’t appeal to you, but you know someone who would appreciate it, you can even give them a gift subscription where each installment arrives at a selected time each day along with a personalized message from you.

Reading 2.0

In the middle of the year I was fortunate enough to attend the NECC 2008 Conference in San Antonio, and one of the sessions which really inspired me was called “Feed, Tag, Research: Remixing for School Library 2.5″. A group of 7 innovative TLs from America and Australia shared their passion to incorporate best practice Web 2.0 technologies into their libraries to enrich and empower students of today and tomorrow.

Anita Beaman – librarian at University High School, Illinois State University – was one of those presenters, and her passion is to meld books, reading and Web 2.0 – using 2.0 technology to promote reading for pleasure. Together with Amy Oberts, TL from Oakland Elementary School, Bloomington, Anita has developed a wiki called ‘Reading 2.0’ aimed at bringing together all kinds of internet sites which promote interaction with books and reading. Check it out at http://readingtech.wikispaces.com/

These ladies say: “Harnessing technology to excite and empower your students’ literary development is our mission for Reading 2.0!

To encourage the digital native generation to read, we may have to redefine what we mean by reading. According to a recent article in American Libraries, teens are reading all the time–they just aren’t always reading in the “traditional ways.”So why not use what they DO read to encourage them to read more books? Use online forums like MySpace, YouTube, author blogs, and online book groups to help get your students excited about reading. Compile a brief list of links with additional info about an author or topic and print them on an address label. Stick the label in the books in a highly visible place–on the last page, or opposite the first page. Encourage your students to explore reading in their own territory.”

Below are some examples of the types of information Anita puts into the novels in her library:

Meg Cabot

Want more of Meg?  Here’s where to look!

Website: http://www.megcabot.com/

Meg’s Diary: http://www.megcabot.com/diary/

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/meg_cabot

Myspace Groups: http://groups.myspace.com/megcabotbookfans or http://groups.myspace.com/authermegc

Teen Lit (MySpace): http://groups.myspace.com/teenlit

Readergirlz: http://www.readergirlz.com/ or  http://www.myspace.com/readergirlz

Not Your Mother’s Book Club: http://www.myspace.com/notyourmothers

Sarah Dessen

Hey!  If you’re a Sarah Dessen fan, check out these sites online:

Website: http://www.sarahdessen.com/

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/sarahdessen

Blog: http://writergrl.livejournal.com/

Sarahland: A Live Journal Community for Sarah Dessen Fans:


Teen Lit (MySpace): http://groups.myspace.com/teenlit

Readergirlz: http://www.readergirlz.com/ or  http://www.myspace.com/readergirlz

Not Your Mother’s Book Club: http://www.myspace.com/notyourmothers

Scott Westerfeld

Want more Westerfeld?  Check out the web:

Webpage: http://www.scottwesterfeld.com/

Westerblog: http://www.scottwesterfeld.com/blog/

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/westerfeld

Westerfeld Myspace Group: http://groups.myspace.com/scottwesterfeld

Teen Lit (MySpace): http://groups.myspace.com/teenlit

Not Your Mother’s Book Club: http://www.myspace.com/notyourmothers


Lookybook is a great site where you can actually look at picture books before you buy them. At first I thought it was a bit silly to allow people to see the whole book first, but the more I’ve looked, the more I’ve found that I’d like to buy!  It’s just like standing in a bookstore and browsing the books – except you do it from your own computer at your leisure.


“The world’s longest bookshelf. Libraries and bookstores have limited space, so the only book covers you see are generally best sellers. But what about all of those other books—new books, obscure books, undiscovered gems that are stuck sideways on the shelf, or worse, in a warehouse somewhere. Since we have infinite shelf space, every book on Lookybook is displayed cover out and searchable by a number of different criteria.”

To find books, you can search by keyword, author, illustrator, subject or genre, or you can click on the “Book Tumbler” to get a random selection of books. Each book has listed the size, number of pages, age level, publishing details and a review. If you like the book, you then have the option to purchase it online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Book Sense.

You also have the option to create a free account, which then enables you to create your own bookshelf of favourite titles, add comments, email the link to a friend, or you can save the link to your favourites in Facebook, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon or Digg.

“Your Bookshelf. We value the book reviews of librarians and industry experts and we especially value the opinions of moms and dads. Because we are a site for looking at and discovering new books, we want to know what you think and like. Not only can you share your comments about a particular book, you can share all your favorite books by creating and posting your Bookshelf. Fellow Lookybookers can look at your favorites and show you theirs—creating a virtual show-and-tell about today’s best picture books. (register to get a Bookshelf)”

The downside is that there are not many Australian authors or illustrators on the site; the upside is that you might just discover some really nice picture books that you’ve never heard of before!

This is an example of a picture book from Lookybook:

“When Pigasso met Mootisse” by Nina Laden

READ Mini-Posters

These mini-posters are a fun way to advertise reading that’s happening in your libray or any other place!  Click on this link to go to the ALA page where you will be able to upload your own photos to create cool posters.


When you upload a photo, it’s a good idea to choose one that’s not too close-up, as it’s not always possible to get exactly the part of the photo that you want.

(Photo of dog reading from MBKepp’s Flickr photos)

Check out the READ mini-posters pool on Flickr, and add some of your own!