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Enthusiastic children take up Literacy Week Challenge

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 30, 2011

"That was lots of fun. I want to do it every month," said 10-year-old Meredith Tyler.

"Every day!" piped up Zoe Tucker, also 10.

The Grade 5 students at Weledeh Catholic School had just participated in their school's flash mob-style reading event, one of several activities planned for NWT Literacy Week.

Shortly after the end of afternoon recess, students were paged two grades at a time and began shuffling toward the downstairs hallways, books in hand. The kindergartners were paired with the Grade 8 students, the Grade 1s with the Grade 7s, and so on. Once the last students had settled into their spots on the floor, the reading officially commenced.

Fifteen minutes and many enthralled faces later, the students had fulfilled the NWT Literacy Council's Read for 15 Challenge.

Though Weledeh has long been partaking in Literacy Week, the flash mob was a first.

"Usually it's read for 15 in the classroom," said library technician Joyce Karau, who organized the event along with the school's literacy committee.

"It was fun," she said. "A little hectic at first but I think the end result was successful."

Karau said she was inspired by the Literacy Council's plan to have a similar flash mob downtown Wednesday, whereby readers would link up starting at the Greenstone building and stretching along Franklin Avenue. While the downtown flash mob brought out some adorable children from the nearby Yellowknife Day Care, as well as some MLA candidates, Weledeh's all-school flash mob far surpassed the downtown event in terms of attendance. About 50 people attended the event, according to Katie Randall of the NWT Literacy Council.

Karau called Literacy Week "a great way to encourage kids and families to read and realize that reading can be anywhere and at any time," especially in the face of increasingly technological forms of entertainment.

Clasping their Harry Potter books, Tyler and Tucker didn't seem to need much encouragement. Both girls said they preferred the books to the movies.

"When you're reading you kind of get pretty much sucked into the book. Like you could sit there - I could sit there for four hours and read maybe ... Depending on the book anyway ... If it's interesting enough you just get sucked into the book and you feel like you're there," said Tucker.

Both girls said they enjoyed the fantasy genre, though Tyler said she likes reading history books "once in a while."

"I like learning about English history," she said. "It's so much more interesting because it's got all those crazy old kings and things."

Apart from Literacy Week events, Weledeh students attend one library period in each six-day rotation, which enables them to sign out books they are interested in.

"Usually most of the time kids don't like reading because sometimes the books they're told to read they don't like, or they find really boring. So really, choosing your own books and picking them by yourself, it's much more fun," advocated Tyler.

Since reaching Grade 4, "Now we're able to pick over there where all the big novels are," said Tucker excitedly, pointing to a particular wall of books in Weledeh's library.

Tucker had just one complaint about the day's event.

"I was reading with this little kid and I was starting to get into the story and then they say, 'OK, you don't have to read anymore.' And it was his book so I couldn't take it back and I couldn't read it."

"We might be able to organize something so you can finish it," Karau assured her.

For more on Literacy Week see page 4.

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