Teachers' Corner: Michigan librarian loves WrestleMania Reading Challenge

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July 08, 2010

The following item was sent to Teachers' Corner by Bambi Mansfield, Director of the Crawford County Library System in Michigan: 

As the library director of a small, rural community in Michigan, it is always a challenge to get kids reading, especially the youth. A young girl, age 10, emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I would consider the WrestleMania 27 Reading Challenge for 2010. I must admit, I was reluctant to get involved with it since my days of watching wrestling included The Sheik, Andre and others. I did not want to appear old, or out of the ring, so to speak.

s a gesture to show cooperation, I reluctantly registered for the WrestleMania 27 Reading Challenge. I truly thought this would be a small commitment of time, a young fan would be happy and I would provide one or two small programs for the youth to allow them to compete.  This would be a simple thing, and I would never have to worry about it again. Boy, did I "Hornswoggle" myself!

Within 48 hours of answering the initial email, I was overwhelmed with middle school boys and girls, as well as adults, who had heard that we were doing the Challenge! We have not even begun and already we are overwhelmed with the response. Because of the community reaction, we are taking this challenge further than we had originally intended! And guess who is the most inspired and excited? Me, the reluctant librarian! I have been diligently working on ideas and answering excited teens who are waiting patiently for October to arrive. We will be focusing on literacy for more than a month and will be able to "Knock out Illiteracy" by "Wrestling with a Good Book!" using the initial inspiration of WWE's WrestleMania Reading Challenge and the Get R.E.A.L. program.

You have no idea what this means to our community. We have been seeking a way to inspire and bring together a much fractured environment. You see, Crawford County Michigan is a repressed community in many ways. More than 90 percent of our school aged children receive reduced or free lunches due to our low income levels. We have one of the highest national unemployment rates in America, and we are the second largest National Guard Base Camp in the Nation. Our children/youth/adults needed something positive to focus on. Many of our families are directly affected by loved ones being overseas or the deterioration of family life due to the economy. Who would have thought that one little girl's request would become such a community event and that the librarian would be so excited?

I have to admit, I was not a fan of WWE, but I am now! If your corporation is dedicated to encouraging literacy and can inspire so many, I am a new convert! I am thrilled to be involved in the challenge and look forward to a wonderful series of programs.

The youth that brought the idea to me, as well as many of her cohorts in crime, are working on planning and coming up with different events and library challenges for a month-long program. It is our hope and plan to take this to our primary, elementary, middle school and high school aged kids to encourage a county-wide reading program. We have already purchased many books on WWE and the Superstars; we are designing our own challenge championships and we are anxiously awaiting the promotional materials for the actual WrestleMania Reading Challenge. 

This is one of the first times that we have seen enthusiasm in our community that spans generations and genders! Thanks for making such a neat program available. I am so looking forward to "Knocking out Illiteracy!" by "Wrestling with a Good Book"!

To learn more about theWrestleMania 27 Reading Challenge, please visit wrestlemaniareadingchallenge.com. Schools and libraries have until July 31 to sign up for the program, which is sponsored by WWE and Young Adult Library Services Association, with support from Mattel, DK Publishing, Penguin Young Readers Group, TOPPS, E1 Entertainment and Cold Stone Creamery. The Challenge takes place from Oct. 16-25 as part of Teen Read Week. (WATCH: Kofi Kingston encourages the WWE Universe to join the WrestleMania Reading Challenge)

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