|"Outside the New York Public Library" by dmcordell|
Evidently one young man has won prizes for the last five years because of the number of books he completed as part of a reading challenge. While the children's room aide applauds this accomplishment and sees no problem in continuing the competition, her director wants to change the procedure to give every child a chance to win by entering participants' name in a random drawing.
Each woman makes some valid points:
"Casey [the library aide] said everyone in the club is on a level playing field because all begin and end the same day and all have the opportunity to read as many books as they wish...My feeling is you work, you get it. That’s just the way it is in anything."
An opposing viewpoint comes from Gandron, the director, "Tyler 'hogs' the contest every year and he should 'step aside.' Other kids quit because they can’t keep up."
I am a very fast reader. As a child, I could have easily bested my peers in this type of contest - but I read because I loved it, not for praise or prizes. When reading now, I sometimes have to consciously slow myself down, to savor language and grasp nuances.
Some of my school library students devoured books, showing up many times during the week to select new titles. Others were plodders, slowly working through their reading selections. There is room in the world for both approaches to literature, especially when it comes to reading for pleasure rather than solely for information.
Are reading contests beneficial to students? Would a book club be a better choice...or would that seem too "schooly"? I'd be interested in learning how other librarians approach this issue.