Book Challenge Activities From Gale

7 min read

| By Gale Staff |

As the tail end of winter drags on, with its chilly, gray days making everyone a bit stir-crazy, we’re all looking forward to the arrival of spring—and, with it, National Reading Month. This celebration of literacy is just what students need to shake off the winter gloom and spark their enthusiasm for learning in the last stretch of the school year. The festivities kick off with Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2, followed by four weeks of students, educators, librarians, and their communities coming together to celebrate the magic of reading and its ability to connect us to new, wondrous worlds.

National Reading Month centers around activities and special events designed to get books off the shelves and into children’s hands, from read-a-thon competitions to literature parades that encourage students to dress up as their most beloved story characters. It’s all to kindle a lifelong love of reading as a fundamental skill and a source of adventure, inspiration, and joy.

This year, celebrate National Reading Month with Book Challenge Activities based around three of our literacy-focused resources that make reading accessible and engaging for learners.

Gale In Context: Literature allows readers to dig deeper into the classics and introduce themselves to modern additions to the canon. Gale Books and Authors opens the door for eager and reluctant readers alike to discover new favorites. And for the little ones, Gale Presents: Miss Humblebee’s Academy prepares new readers for a lifelong love of learning through a standards-based curriculum in a colorful, kid-friendly interface.

Illiteracy in the United States has reached alarming levels, affecting children and adults alike. According to the National Literacy Association, 21% of adults in the United States are illiterate as of 2022, and approximately 40% of students across the nation cannot read at a basic level. If we’re going to turn those statistics around, it starts with intentional efforts to spark a love for literacy in students while also demonstrating how the ability to read impacts every part of our lives.

Hosted by local and school libraries as competitions designed to get people reading as many books as possible, read-a-thons are one of the most popular activities during National Reading Month. Many also partner with Reading Is Fundamental’s Million Book March, a campaign to “encourage kids nationwide to collectively read one million books” during National Reading Month.

These activities are a fun way to encourage readers to consume as much content as possible. Still, educators and librarians can take things one step further by asking learners not just to read books, but to engage with them in ways that encourage critical thinking.

Getting reluctant readers to think critically about texts can be challenging, but it’s a worthy cause. That’s why we created Gale’s Book Challenge Activities and paired them with three of our most robust literacy resources: Gale Books and Authors, Gale In Context: Literature, and Gale Presents: Miss Humblebee’s Academy.

Schools and libraries alike can benefit from Gale’s Book Challenge Activities and their unique framework that provides the scaffolding to empower students to take their literary explorations into their own hands.

Each activity consists of a set of guided questions—like a scavenger hunt—that asks students to use the extensive Gale resources to engage with a book, short story, or poem that might interest them from a broader category or genre, such as historical fiction or adventure. QR codes and account-specific URLs make it easy to quickly access the right content.

For each title they choose through Books and Authors or Literature Book Challenge Activity, learners are asked to answer questions and prompts, such as:

  1. Why did you select this book?
  2. Describe one section/scene/event that was most interesting to you.
  3. If you could ask the author one thing, what would it be?
  4. What are your overall impressions of the book? What would you rate it out of ten?

As for Miss Humblebee’s Academy, young readers can share the title and write or draw their favorite part of the story.

Because of the flexible formatting, you can transform the Book Challenge Activity into a classroom-, school-, or even district-wide competition that encourages students to explore as many texts as they can before the end of National Reading Month,

These challenges are a more modern, interactive take on the classic read-a-thon format, encouraging students to read as many books as possible before the end of the month while fostering their ability to engage with a text in more meaningful ways.

Let’s take a look at Gale’s literary resources so you can make the most of National Reading Month.

Sometimes, the only thing standing between a child and a love for reading is the right book. Gale Books and Authors puts the power to discover their new favorite read in students’ hands with unique search paths. The Gale Books and Authors Book Challenge Activity is designed to help students uncover new books using the platform.

Learners can browse by genre or author, check out curated book lists based on award winners, expert picks, and librarian favorites, or preview similar titles with the “read-alikes” section featured on each book profile.

The platform features the familiar Gale interface and accessibility features so readers can independently explore the topics and genres that interest them most, or discover a new favorite from among the following:

  • Adventure
  • Historical Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Non-Fiction

Make reading resonate with your students with Gale In Context: Literature, a database of literary works, reference texts, biographies, multimedia content, and more. Our collection strives to deepen your learners’ understanding and appreciation of literature in a user-friendly platform designed with accessibility in mind.

The Gale In Context: Literature Reading Challenge Activity encourages students to explore and analyze our collection of:

  • 38 short stories, including “The Lottery,” “Everyday Use,” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
  • 10 graphic novels, including American Born Chinese and Persepolis
  • 13 satires, including Doctor Faustus and “A Modest Proposal”
  • 12 autobiographies, including The Diary of Anne Frank, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Night
  • At least one text of their choice

For learners aged 3–6, Gale Presents: Miss Humblebee’s Academy combines fun, age-appropriate activities, and outcomes-based learning into a single platform. The standards-aligned content features hundreds of theme-based lessons that appeal to little ones’ learning needs with colorful pictures, sound cues, and on-demand translation into 40 languages. You can also trust that the children are safe and secure online, as the platform is entirely free of pop-ups, advertisements, and outbound links.

With a bit of guidance from a grown-up, new readers can use their audio eBooks collection to complete the Miss Humblebee’s Academy Reading Challenge Activity while digging into intriguing books, stories, and characters, including:

  • A day in the life of construction workers, astronauts, bakers, and other professionals
  • The life stories of diverse historical figures, including Sean Sherman, Edmonia, Lewis, Boyan Slat, and many more
  • Books with an animal on the cover
  • Books with green on the cover
  • At least one other topic they want to explore

Reading is the bedrock on which many other skills are built, and perhaps the most important skill we can teach to children before they leave our classroom. National Reading Month is the perfect opportunity to show all learners that literacy is deeply rewarding and enjoyable. And, with the help of Gale’s Book Challenge Activities, you have the right tools for creating a new generation of readers who enthusiastically dive into a good book and think critically about the content they encounter.

If you don’t yet have access to Gale Books and Authors, Gale In Context: Literature, and Gale Presents: Miss Humblebee’s Academy. Reach out to your local representative for more information!

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