BLUE HILL, Maine — The local Idita-Read reading incentive program sponsored by the Downeast Dog Scouts was deemed a success by readers, parents, teachers and librarians. From March 3 through April 20 children from the Blue Hill Library and Tremont School logged a total of 105,788 reading minutes or 1,763 hours, working toward the individual goal of 1,112 reading minutes correlating to the Iditarod mileage on the Northern Route.
The Idita-Read is an incentive reading project for school age readers offered through the nonprofit World Wide Idea’s Read-A-Route Program. Mirroring Alaska’s biggest annual sled dog race, the Idita-Readers relied on reading minutes to travel the distance along the Iditarod trail from Anchorage to Nome. One minute of reading equals one mile on the Iditarod trail. Based on the 2012 Iditarod Race Schedule, readers took up to 55 days to complete the race.
Pat Horton, Blue Hill Library Youth Services Librarian, organized the library’s project and nine children for the Blue Hill Library’s Extreme Readers team read 2,572 minutes or 43 hours, along the trail. Mrs. Horton noted, “Feedback from parents was very positive. Kids were inspired to read and very eager to report to me their progress. It was a great experience for all who participated.” Dog Scouts Bri and Gracie were team mascots for the Blue Hill Extreme Readers and small stuffed huskies were available for the Idita-Readers to take home as reading companions. The Blue Hill Extreme Readers and their families enjoyed an Idita-Read Finish Line Celebration at the library, and the readers were rewarded with books, certificates and Idita-Read cake. Gracie and Pier Carros are at the Blue Hill Library each week for readers during the school year.
The Tremont School Idita-Read Project was organized by Tremont School Librarian Crystal Dow and she stated, “It was amazing and by far the most motivational reading program I’ve ever done.” The four reading teams at Tremont School were the Crazy Canines, Turbo Dogs, MDI Mushers and Rocking Readers. The Tremont School students logged 103,216 minutes or 1,720 hours of reading. “That’s impressive! Especially since most of the reading took place outside of school,” commented Mrs. Dow.
On May 4th, a fun filled Idita-Read Finish Line Celebration was held in the Tremont School gymnasium. Rob Liebow, Superintendent of the Mount Desert Regional School System, joined in the festivities to congratulate the readers on their accomplishments at the Idita-Read Finish Line. One hundred ten students from all grade levels participated in the reading program and seventy three students completed the reading goal of 1,112 minutes to cross the Idita-Read Finish Line. These readers proudly wore their paw print medals presented to them by the Downeast Dog Scouts team mascot dogs. All of the Idita-Readers received Certificates of Accomplishment and special reward books while everyone in attendance enjoyed Idita-Read cake and ice cream.
The Downeast Dog Scouts had joined the students at the Tremont School for their kick off assembly in the school gymnasium. Six dogs attended as team mascots encouraging the Crazy Canines, Turbo Dogs, MDI Mushers and Rocking Readers to read the most minutes for their teams. A few weeks after the Idita-Read project began, the Dog Scouts surprised the readers with notes of encouragement featuring colorful paw prints and photos of their team mascots. Rissa, Timber, Jillian and Cirra visited the Tremont School to read with the top six readers of each team as inspiration to keep up the good reading!
Brooksville Elementary School teacher, Nada Lepper, gave fantastic presentations about the Iditarod at the Blue hill Library and Tremont School. She shared her experiences from visiting the famous sled dog race with students from the Brooksville Elementary School. For years Lepper has used the Iditarod as a unit of study in her classes. The idea for the Iditarod class trip came when a visiting Alaskan woman heard about the class’ study of the race and invited Lepper’s class to go to Alaska.
Downeast Dog Scouts Troop 159 is an affiliate of the Dog Scouts of America in Hancock County, Maine that promotes responsible dog ownership, bringing people and dogs together to learn, socialize and help in the community. Reading is the cornerstone of all learning and many of the dogs in the troop are Reading Education Assistance Dogs. The Idita-Read was a fantastic project for a group that loves dogs, the outdoors and the promotion of positive canine relationships through education and reading with children.