Thursday, March 13, 2008

WrestleMania Reading Challenge

When the promotional materials for Teen Read Week 2007 arrived last fall, I had no idea who the people on the posters were. Oh, I knew they were wrestlers, but beyond that I was clueless. Truth be told, I was a little skeptical about YALSA’s choice to work with WWE, and I didn’t know if watching professional wrestling was a popular pastime for the teen patrons of the Carnegie Library of Homestead.

It wasn’t until I started taping up the posters that I realized I had underestimated our young patrons! Before I had even put the first one up, a large crowd had gathered around me, and I was educated as to all of the wrestler’s stage names, their real names, their signature moves, etc. It was only after I saw how enraptured they were with everything WWE that I decided it might be worth the effort to register my library in the WrestleMania Reading Challenge.

The Reading Challenge required that all participants read 10 books between Teen Read Week and January 14, 2008. The books had to be read in the teens’ free time, and couldn’t be anything required for school. All teens that completed a log of 10 books were awarded a small prize. Teens who wanted to the chance to win a trip to Orlando and compete in the National Finals had to write a 300-word essay about “How WrestleMania Inspired Me to Read”. Two young adults, Laquan, in the Grades 7-8 age group, and Ajoura, in the Grades 9-12 age group, won the essay contest at the library level, and I then sent the essays on to YALSA to be judged at the regional level.

After I submitted the essays, there were several weeks of waiting. Laquan and Ajoura were very excited, and checked in with me regularly to see if I had heard anything from YALSA. Finally, in late February, I was informed that Laquan and Ajoura’s essays had won the regional competition for their respective age groups. This meant that they both won a trip for two to Orlando (including airfare, hotel, and spending money) and general admission tickets to WrestleMania 24, which will take place on March 30. The night before the big show, they will compete against 4 other finalists in a book trivia contest for the chance to win ringside tickets. In addition, they each won $2,000 for the Carnegie Library of Homestead to spend in the Youth Services Department! I have been fantasizing about finally getting to buy a gaming system for the library ever since.

I had the unique delight of informing the two winners of their success. I can’t imagine a more rewarding experience! This competition has broadened their horizons in so many ways. Children and teens that frequent the Homestead Library rarely leave the neighborhood, let alone the state. Most have never been on an airplane or stayed in a hotel. We are so happy for them! There will be a WrestleMania-themed party on Wednesday, March 19 at 5pm to congratulate Laquan and Ajoura and to wish them good luck. The party will be open to the community, and we hope to see a lot of new faces there!

Eva Mays
Assistant Youth Services Librarian
Carnegie Library of Homestead


kellypr said...

Eva, This is so awesome!! Alicia and I from Braddock are excited for the two patrons who are going to Orlando. Spending money!! Also, I'm enjoying the guest bloggers, so I hope Kelley keeps them coming!

librarylady said...

I'm the LMS for one of the other 7th-8th grade winners and I feel exactly the same way you do about my kid who's getting to go! This is such a huge moment for Chris, who is a big fan of the WWE and I just about passed out when they called to tell me that he won!