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Global Reading Challenge

This spring, we celebrated the 20th year of the Global Reading Challenge! This quiz-bowl program is for 4th and 5th graders. Students form teams at their schools, read ten books chosen by KPL children’s librarians, then work as a team to answer questions about the books, earning points with correct answers.

Our intent is for kids to have fun reading the books and participating in a team activity. The ten books are carefully chosen to reflect our diverse world and to show characters successfully solving problems, contributing to their communities, and learning that people are more alike than they are different.

The first Challenge, in 1994, featured 19 teams from Lincoln, North Christian, and MLK Westwood; the winning team was the “Bookworm Warriors” from MLK Westwood. This year we had 129 teams from 17 schools! The District Final Challenge featured teams from Edison, Arcadia, Prairie Ridge, Spring Valley, and Northglade. The champion was the “Crazy Cougars” team from Prairie Ridge. Thanks to the students, parents, teachers, principals, and coaches for another successful year of books and reading!

Over this summer, librarians will be reading and choosing the books for the 2015 Global Reading Challenge. Team applications will be accepted in October and the book titles will be announced in December.

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Global Reading Challenge
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KPL’s part in Black History

Well, here it is, the last day of Black History Month and all month I have been reflecting on what an honor it is to be working at a trailblazing library system, such as Kalamazoo Public Library. Why would I call KPL a trailblazer? Well, it all started with Mrs. Alma Harrod Powell. She was before her time. She went from being a housekeeper to a Library Assistant to a renowned storyteller and historian. It all started while working in the home of a world traveler, Mr. Larry Firth. Mr. Firth would return from Africa with artifacts that heightened Mrs. Powell interest in African history. In 1944 she participated in an apprenticeship course at KPL and in 1946 she became a KPL Library Assistant. In 1957 Mrs. Powell received a citation from the Michigan Library Association which acknowledged her skill as a storyteller. In 1968 a small library room in Lincoln School opened and was named Alma Powell Library Project. Mrs. Powell was followed by Mary Mace Spradling and Roberta Cheney. They were trailblazers in their own rights.

This all happened at KPL in Kalamazoo, Michigan before the civil rights movement. As a black female Mrs. Powell was a pioneer and Kalamazoo Public Library was a trailblazer. And we keep right on blazing because this year KPL will be the first library in Michigan to have its own antiracism team. We have begun selecting a team and we will begin training and working towards institutional equality.

Yes, as I said, it is truly an honor to be a part of this historical establishment.

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Alma Powell
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999 Frogs and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten!

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is an exciting new program at Kalamazoo Public Library for all children from birth to entering Kindergarten. It's super simple, self paced, and provides a way for your child to earn a prize for every 50 books you read aloud to her and then a gift and certificate of completion when you reach 1,000 books. More important, since reading aloud to your child is the best way to prepare for kindergarten, 1,000 Before Kindergarten is a way for you to do just that - read lots of books with your child!

A parent asked me if the books she reads to her child for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten need to be library books. They do not. While Kalamazoo Public Library certainly has many thousands of books we can all share together with our preschool aged children, you might find yourself reading a book aloud to your child that you found at the Friends bookstore or that was passed along to you or purchased elsewhere. Of course this is just great! And the way you read the books is also completely up to you. Some books are made to be sung to your child. Other books benefit from the animal sounds you supply. There is a whole world of fun to be had reading to our children.

It's easy to sign up at the any KPL location. Learn more about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten at KPL and continue down the road to Kindergarten. And if you're in the mood for a fun read aloud that will help you think ahead to Springtime, check out 999 Frogs Wake Up

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999 Frogs and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten!
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