May 6, 2014
Scholastic launches Summer Reading Challenge for kids
by Nick Davies
Scholastic announced the launch of its annual children’s summer reading program, the Summer Reading Challenge, yesterday. In a press release posted to PR Newswire, the publisher said it would offer a variety of resources for parents and teachers, and prizes for kids, to encourage reading during the months when school is out.
As of yesterday, students (in grades K-8) can register online and start logging their reading minutes on behalf of their schools. The schools with the most minutes logged by the end of the program on September 5 will win prizes: the elementary school with the most minutes will get a visit from author/illustrator David Shannon, author Gordon Korman will visit the top-performing middle school, and the top 20 schools in the country will be featured in the 2015 Scholastic Book of World Records.
It’s not a perfect system—prizes based on sheer volume of minutes will reward bigger schools with higher enrollment, not to mention the fact that children will absolutely lie to gain a competitive advantage. The latter will probably be mitigated by the fact that it will be happening everywhere, though, and if the program gets kids reading more on average, it’s still a very good thing.
The theme of this year’s challenge is “Reading Under the Stars,” complete with corporate sponsor Eveready, which is providing batteries, flashlights, and the like in prize packages that parents can win every week; the better to read outdoors, without the risk of getting too close to a campfire or citronella candle. The stars theme also comes into play when children log their minutes, unlocking various constellations with video messages from astronaut Leland Marvin. Per the release, “children will also have the opportunity to take an extra ‘Chapter Challenge’ and learn more about space from Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist from the SETI and Mars Institute and author of Mission: Mars.”
Among the tools for parents that Scholastic is releasing for the project are an app to count minutes, a 2014 summer book list, coupons on Eveready batteries, and online chats with parenting and reading experts. There are also events at museums and planetariums planned, monthly sweepstakes to win box sets of books, and the chance to unlock weekly chapters in popular books.
With the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge, Scholastic hopes to break the world record it set last year, which clocked in at 176,438,473 minutes (nearly 3 million hours). As of this writing on Monday, readers had logged some 146,000 minutes, with the counter climbing fast.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.