Students get in battle of words at Global Reading Challenge

March 15, 2011

By Laura Geggel

They had read the books over and over. They had quizzed each other. They had triumphed at their schools’ Global Reading Challenge, landing them a spot at the Issaquah School District’s competition at the Issaquah Library.

A group of elementary school students convenes, deciding what to write for their response to a question at the King County Library System Global Reading Challenge. By Laura Geggel

In a room overflowing with about 60 parents, teachers and friends, 42 fourth- and fifth-grade students sat raptly listening as librarians quizzed them about books.

Parent Toni Nankova said her daughter Daniela Nankova absorbed the books like a sponge does water.

“After she was done reading, she would say, “Mom, this book is really good. You have to read it,” Toni Nankova said. “And then she would quiz me on it. If I got it wrong, she’d say, ‘You have to go back and read it.’”

Students began preparing for the challenge in October. Each group had seven people and 10 books to read, with some students reading a few books and others reading the whole stack.

First, they competed against other groups at their school. The winning teams from Creekside, Discovery, Grand Ridge, Issaquah Valley, Maple Hills and Sunset elementary schools trooped to the Issaquah Library on March 2 to duke it out with their friends and rivals.

Groups received five points for every correct answer, and zero points for every incorrect answer. Using questions collected from the different schools, Librarian Leigh Piter wasted no time in hitting the books.

“What does Felix keep on his dresser to remember his father by?” she asked, giving them multiple-choice answers to select.

When she read the answer, a foul ball, from the book “Free Baseball,” by Sue Corbett, students pumped their fists into the air, grinning at one another when they learned they got the right answer.

By the end of the first round, there was a four-way tie.

“Good work, everybody,” Piter said. “Everybody could still win. That just shows how much work you’ve put into it.”

From the audience, Melissa Slish watched her fifth-grade son Connor Slish compete for Creekside.

“He’s read all of the books and he seems to remember a lot of little details,” she said.

They started reading the books together, but soon Connor took over, reading them independently.

“Some I went back and read on my own,” said Melissa Slish, a fan of children’s literature.

The competition is so popular, 17 teams competed at Issaquah Valley.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Issaquah valley fifth-grade teacher Susan Ahrensdorf said. “The kids have really embraced reading these books and reading in general.”

Even students not involved in the Global Reading Challenge got caught up in the contagious excitement for reading.

“They’re voracious readers,” Ahrensdorf said. “They’re thrilled when I say ‘silent reading.’”

Discovery second-grader Tyler Travers came to watch her fourth-grade sister Timilin Travers compete. When she’s old enough, Tyler said she plans to participate in the competition, too, because “I like books.”

Students said they read books for the competition they would not normally have read. Creekside fifth-grader Annie Tang said “Found” was her favorite book, “because it’s cool. It has stuff about time travel.” Sunset student Jason Sherpa said he liked “Alvin Ho,” because “It was fun. It’s about a guy who is scared of a lot of things.”

After three rounds of questions, the Shadow Readers from Creekside had the highest score, with 110 points.

They took home a district trophy and progressed to the March 15 regional competition against neighboring school districts.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241 or Comment at

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