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It was like bumper cars on scooters.
Inside the gym at Strathcona elementary last Thursday morning, young book lovers from four different schools lined up behind the balance beam, bodies silently shaking with anticipation as they awaited their question.
“In what book is a dog named Turtle?” the announcer asked through the microphone.
As soon as the announcer gave them the “Go!” kids jumped up, raced across the balance beam, planted their bums on a small square scooter, and shot across the length of the gym floor, flinging a plastic ball out of a scoop and into a milk crate before sprinting back to their starting positions – all in a flurry of ear piercing cheers and chants from their sitting teammates.
If their answer was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, they got a point.
Welcome to Book-O-Rama.
Book-O-Rama is a district-wide, voluntary, reading-incentive program, organized by the Chilliwack Teacher-Librarian Association as a way of encouraging students to read good books and have fun doing it.
“It’s an opportunity for kids who love to read to participate in a day of fun events based on some of their favourite characters,” said Watson elementary school’s teacher-librarian Carrie Klassen.
For five months students in Grades 3-6 have read a multitude of books, including George’s Marvelous Medicine, How To Eat Fried Worms, The Breadwinner, and Thief Lord. They’ve read at recess, at lunch, after school, on weekends, before dinner, before bed – any spare opportunity they had, their eyes were glued to the pages.
All in preparation for Book-O-Rama.
You see, these kids have heard stories about the annual event, some were even past participants, and they know it’s more than just rapid-fire questions being thrown at them Jeopardy style. Oh no, Book-O-Rama is a morning filled with outrageous laughter and a fun-filled relay obstacle course that tests not only their fictional knowledge, but also coordination and fitness.
Most notably with the scooters.
Some kids were old hands at it, speeding down the wood floor backwards, using their small feet to propel them faster. Some tried different tactics, kneeling down on one knee and using their other leg to move them forward, and one even tried mounting it with her belly as though she were on a waterslide.
Some shot down the lane straight as an arrow, but most weaved and zigzagged along the gym floor, some going completely diagonal across – so focused on getting to the end, they had nary a thought for the other competitors on the floor.
Much to the laughter of teachers, parents and classmates watching on the sidelines.
By the end, the organizers hoped to have opened the minds of non-readers and readers alike.
“We’re trying to stretch them beyond their comfort zones, open their minds to different genres,” said Klassen.
Thirteen schools participated in Book-O-Rama, which was hosted at four different schools, with an average of 10 students per school.