Monday 21 April 2008

Lahinch National School are this year’s winners of Clare County Library’s WOW Transatlantic Reading Challenge.

The children of Lahinch have read a phenomenal 53, 696 books, an average of 466 books per child, over the past six months up to the closing date of the 5th of April 2008.
In a closely contested race to the finish, with North Clare Schools battling it out for first prize, Furglan National School finished second with Clouna National School coming third. Last year’s winners, Moyasta National School, finished fourth.
Clare Schools did themselves especially proud this year with Lahinch National School coming second and Furglan National School coming third in the overall International Challenge among schools in Nova Scotia, London and the US. Big Tancook Elementary School in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada, took first place out of the four participating countries.
A staggering total of 211,967 books were read by 2,391 students in Clare’s National Schools with an average of 89 books read by each child registered in the project.
Mr. Kevin Glynn, principal of Lahinch National School has the following to say on his school’s experience of participating in the Challenge:
“We decided at the beginning of this year to do something special in order to promote reading and foster good reading habits throughout the school. The WOW! Reading challenge was the perfect opportunity to do this and so in early November the challenge began. From day one all teachers, pupils and parents embraced the challenge and reading became fun! Each classroom became a hive of reading activity as children read, recorded, counted, discussed and exchanged every book they could get their hands on. Homework passes were given out to any pupils who read books during the Easter holidays. The buzz of reading was palpable throughout the whole school. The teachers found that everyone could take part, the children challenged themselves to read harder books and the parents thought it was the best thing that ever happened.
We are proud to say that the children of Lahinch school have read over 53,000 books as a result of this reading challenge. When the children themselves were asked what they thought were the advantages of the whole experience here is some of what they had to say, “everyone was able to take part”, “ we got to learn fun facts”, “it really was a challenge to read as many books as possible”, “when I started …… I thought I’d read 100 books and I ended up reading 600!”, “we got to read different books every time”, and “I’m never going to quit reading”.
The first Transatlantic Reading Challenge began in late 2006 and proved to be hugely successful in the promotion of reading among children in Clare. National School children were invited to take up the challenge to read as much as they could during the challenge, using books at school, at home and from the public library. This year thirty schools in the County took part which was an increase in the program uptake of 50 per cent on last year.
Each child in Clare was issued with a special reading log, as were children in Nova Scotia, London and the United States. A designated teacher in each school totalled how many books per child were read as part of the challenge, at regular intervals and registered these figures on the Adopt-a-Library website

The Reading Challenge is part of a larger crime prevention program in Canada called the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program and is a partnership of police and public libraries. The Program advocates literacy as a means of ensuring children and young people have high self esteem and feel in control of their lives. By taking part in the Reading Challenge children can improve their reading skills and learn to work together towards a common goal by competing against other schools in a friendly and positive way.
For the second year in a row Sergeant John Staunton, Ennis Garda Headquarters has been extremely supportive of the project. Joining with the library service Clare Garda Division assigned fifteen members of the Gardai to the project, who visited schools to promote the challenge and to drive home the message that increased literacy means decreased crime. Teachers and librarians involved in the project all agree that the participating gardai worked above and beyond the call of duty in engaging and inspiring the young readers in the schools they regularly visited.
A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police visited schools in County Clare in April 2007 to promote the transatlantic literacy programme. A return visit is planned for participating schools in October 2008.

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