What a beautiful adventure it is, to take a seat and enjoy a wonderful enchanted journey, it is a feeling that can’t be described, a world that only your imagination can give you. Come on! A book gives you what you want, through the power of your mind you can get into that world you want to reach. This happened with the children of our bilingual school in Camasca through a reading contest.
This project was the first of its kind and being in charge of it was a big challenge for me. It made me feel honored … I was trusted with the first annual reading contest Shoulder to Shoulder was supporting at the bilingual school. It took me and the teachers some time to prepare the things we needed to begin. We planned to have kids fill out reports for each book they read, and each grade had a different one representing a different level of difficulty. We also needed to decide the prizes to motivate students to continue reading. For each grade we gave a big prize to the student who had read the largest amount of books. Even though our library does not have very many Spanish books, which is our native language, our kids did pretty well on this adventure.
While we had planned for the reading contest to take place since the beginning of the year, due to unforeseen circumstances we had to postpone it. Finally, in August we got it going and it ran until October. That Monday morning, when the reading contest was announced during assembly, there was such an excitement in all of our students; I will never forget the smiles they let slip out of their faces. While the kids were all excited, I was pretty nervous.
Do not read by obligation, do it for fun, smile, live, love, enjoy it. Be aware! With every book you read you are entering the mind of a person, of the person who wrote the book and wants to share their world with you. Begin to be like Lucy, a fifth-grade student in our bilingual school, who fell in love with reading and at the age of 11 years, has now read more than 50 books! – not common in a culture where reading is not a habit that is instilled.
At the very beginning of her adventure Lucy’s goal was to win first place in the competition only because of what first place meant, but then it became a hobby and at the end of the contest she continued reading as she had been doing every day. What was really rewarded was her dedication and enthusiasm for reading. It is hard for me to think that I will forget those words Lucy told her teacher one day, “Miss Jessy, can you please call my dad? I need to tell him that I am staying after class to read.”
Although all the kids were wild about the reading contest, it seemed like it had the biggest impact in the fifth-grade classroom. Students there read as much as they could: they went to read at recess, at lunch, at all times, they even got to school early and stayed later than usual. One of them was Noé. Even though he did not read the most, all his reports demonstrated how much he dove into the books. I was always excited to see the proof that he actually understood and comprehended what he read – much like Nohely’s and Keylin’s reports.
Limits exist only in your mind, get into a world in which you are the owner, the best prize that reading can give you is knowledge. But keep in mind that it is not a book that gives it to you, but your desire and inclination towards reading. Whether you read due to obligation, fun, a challenge, a goal or just out of curiosity when you read a book, it takes you to a wonderful place. Immersed in this world is when you realize how much you ignore about the world, about life.