Global Reading Challenge Celebrates 20 Years!

Global ChallengeThis year, Seattle Public Library’s Global Reading Challenge celebrates its 20th year! For the past 20 years, Seattle Public Library and the Seattle School District have partnered to promote the love of reading across the city. At the program’s helm is Children’s Librarian Mary Palmer, who modeled the program after a weekly Chicago radio show that aired more than 60 years ago. In its first year, the program started with three schools and nine teams. In its 20th year, the program has brought together more than 3000 kids from 54 schools throughout the city.

Global 2Each school is represented by a set of teams, and students are asked questions relating to each of the ten titles and given 30 seconds to write down their answer. Teams move through several rounds, culminating in the City Final, where one team will be named Global Reading Champions! But, in truth, all of the children who participate are winners. This program has benefited countless children over the last 20 years, introducing children to a variety of multicultural literature and stories featuring global issues. Right now, 77% of Seattle’s School District’s fourth and fifth graders participate in this program, and new schools are joining the fun every year!

To add to the excitement, Newbery winner Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn-Dixie, will be speaking to students on February 25th. The public will be invited to hear her speak that same evening, starting at 7 p.m. at the Central Library. Authors Anjalee Banerjee and Sundee Frazier will also being doing talks about their books to Global students.

For a fun look at the Global Reading Challenge, check out this great video created by Children’s Librarian Will Wagler in partnership with Global Captain, Mary Palmer.


Speaking from a personal point of view, my brief experience with Global Reading has been nothing short of amazing. The excitement of the event is palpable even in the pictures, but there really is nothing like the City Final. To see so many kids genuinely excited about reading really is a librarian’s dream come true! Though, the Global Reading Challenge is a competition, it really goes so far beyond winning and losing. I think this parent’s quote says it best:

“Thank-you for realizing that the Global Reading Challenge isn’t just about the competition and getting answers right. It’s more about the challenge of offering the kids a fantastic opportunity to find their own story. I know some kids find the idea of finishing a book an easy task, and therefore can look for deeper meaning in those stories. For my son, it’s a story about him setting a goal, putting in the work, sticking with it to the very end, and proving to himself and others that he is a winner.”

Without further ado, the 2015 Global Reading Challenge titles include:

The Game of Silence by Louise Erdrich

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It by Sundee Frazier

An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee

How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez

Half and Half by Lensey Namioka

Orphan Trains: An Interactive History Adventure by Elizabeth Raum

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

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