Do it yourself Read-a-thons for the whole school

10 steps to success




v      Choose a theme from on e of many library promotional catalogs (Upstart, Demco, etc)

v     Brainstorm an original theme that relates to something special at your school or library


Type of Competition

Decide on the type of competition (You may want to vary it from year to year

v     Individual (each student compete for individual rewards)

v     Class (classes or grade levels compete for group rewards)

v     Whole School (whole school works together to reach a common goal



v     4-6 weeks seem to work best


Levels and Goals

v     Most Read-a-Thons feature a progression through various levels to reach the final goal 5-6 levels work well

á        Books or pages (read X number of books or X number of pagers per level)

á        Categories (select a variety of book genre – students just read X number of books from each category to achieve the final goal

á        Challenges (select a large goal that every class or the whole school works towards – encourages unity, cooperation and teamwork rather than individual competition

v     Minutes (ex: 1 yearŐs minutes in one month  - 525,600)

v     Books (ex: read the equivalent on the # of books in your collection)

v     Pages (ex: 1,000,000 pages)



v     Create a large bulletin board on which to chart the progress of the Read-a-Thon – the BIGGER the BETTER (use a whole wall!)

v     Tie the display to your theme

v     Put the display in a prominent location where everyone entering the school can see it

v     Allow space for each class or every student to mark their progress


Record Keeping

v     Make it Simple! (create record sheets that fit your theme, levels and goals – require parent or teacher signatures)

v     Do it weekly

v     Find what works for you and your staff – use volunteers or upper grade student to tabulate

v     Keep a MASTER RECORD

Special Events

Add excitement to your Read-A-Thon by including 2-3 special events during its run

v     Dress-up Day (related to your theme)

v     Paperback book exchange

v     Special contests or challenges between classes (door decorations, etc.)

v     Lunchtime movies related to your theme (but keep copyright in mind!)


School-Public Library Cooperation

If at all possible include your local public library in your Read-A-Thon plans (good PR for both!)

v     Special story hours sponsored by the public library around your theme

v     Special contests at the public library related to your theme

v     Bonus drawing (students who visit and use the public library bet Bonus Certificates good for weekly Bonus Drawing for various prizes


Introducing the Read-A-Thon

Introducing to Staff

v     Involve interested staff and parents in your initial planning

v     As plans develop keep the Principal and staff fully informed

v     Publish a Read-A-Thon bulleting stating specifically what staff responsibilities are

Introducing to Students

v     Hold an all-school assembly (make the Read-A-thon a big deal with skits posters displays, etc. – explain theme, goals and rewards to students

v     If an all school assembly doesnŐt work – schedule special classroom or grade level visits

Introducing to Parents

v     Send home parent letters promoting the Read-A-Thon, explaining all aspects of it and clearly stating parent responsibilities.



Offer a number of small rewards along the way at every level or every other level to maintain motivation (pencils, bookmarks, buttons, etc)

v     Party Time – all students or classes who reach the Final Goal get to attend a SPECIAL AWARD PARTY (include games, activities, food, raffle, at school sleep-overs, etc.)

v     CELEBRATION ASSEMBLY – for a Read-a-Thon that was a whole school challenge stage an all school assembly

v     Fun activities or games related to your theme (grade level challenges, staff challenges, etc.

v     Recognize your efforts by reading off statistics of Read-A-Thon achievements – hang banners, lead cheers, etc.

v     Dedicate a plaque or other item to commemorate your accomplishment


Putting together a Read-A-Thon is a LOT OF WORK but the REWARDS ARE GREAT!


If you have any questions about creating your own winning Read-A-Thons or would like to share your own Read-A-Thon ideas and experiences IŐd appreciate hearing from your

Jerry Alldredge

Mt. Stuart Elementary School

705 W. 15th Ave

Ellensburg, WA   98926