2023 Global Reading Challenge

Kids around the city are excited about Global Reading Challenge and we are too!

  • ​​Global Reading Challenge is in-person this year!
  • There are 8 books, revealed below. 
    • Books are coming to participating schools. Check in with your school librarian or your classroom teacher. 
  • We have plenty of digital copies of the books available, including e-audio books. 
    • You can use Library Link with your student ID number to check out e-books.
  • Schools decide on teams, so keep in touch with your teacher or school librarian if you want to participate.​
  • January 30-February 17: Trivia teams compete against other teams from their school. Your school will determine the time and day.
  • Semi-Finals take place at the Central Library during the early part of March.
  • The City Final will be the evening of March 21 at the Central Library. 

Good luck to all of our participants this year!

2023 Global Reading Challenge Books

Global Reading Challenge FAQ

What is The Global Reading Challenge?

Our Mission: To encourage reading as a fun and recreational activity that allows 4th and 5th grade students of all reading abilities to engage in the sport of reading. This citywide program is a collaborative effort between The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Public Schools. Students form teams of 7 and read a selection of books, then take part in a trivia competition, answering questions about the books, to determine the winner for the city of Seattle.

Is the goal to read all of the books?

No. The goal is to read one or two books deeply and to have fun doing it. While participants are welcome to read all of the books, the books are chosen to reflect a range of reading difficulty and interests. Not all books will be appealing to all readers.

How do I support a child who is participating?

This program values kids directing their own participation and teamwork at school and at homework help. However, you can support a child by reading the books with them and talking about the stories these books tell. We choose books with diverse perspectives, and sometimes challenging content. We hope that they will lead to conversations that help develop empathy. 

Other ideas: 

  • Read a book out loud together.
  • Make up questions and quiz each other.
  • Make displays about the books—or bookmarks, or posters about the team.
  • Learn about the country/state the books take place in.
  • Have mini book groups where kids can discuss the books they are reading and ask questions about context. This also allows everyone to get an overview of what the book is about.

How does a child sign up for the Global Reading Challenge?

Kids can sign up through their school. Usually through the school librarian, but in some cases there are 4th or 5th grade teachers coordinating it. 

What is the timeline?

Books are announced on this website on November 1 each year. Schools distribute materials as soon as they can after that. Each school has its own way to participate in Global Reading Challenge, but most kids start reading in November. 

Each school will have a first round of competition at their school between Monday, Jan. 30 and Friday, Feb. 17. One team from each school advances to the Semi-Finals. Semi-Finals rounds take place in March at the Central Library downtown. Up to ten schools compete in each round. Advancing teams will attend the City Final at the Central Library on March 21 at 7 p.m.

Check with your school coordinator to find out the exact dates for your in-school and semi-final challenges.

Does it cost money to for a child to participate?

No. It is free.

What does the trivia portion of the competition look like?

Teams will sit together and be given paper and pencils. Teams may NOT use books during the Challenge. Judges will be asking two or three questions from each book; each question will be read once and repeated once. All questions will be true or false, multiple choice, or short answer. Teams will have 30 seconds to talk among themselves, write down their answer to the question, and deliver the answer sheet to the judges’ table. Correct spelling is not required, but the word or words must be identifiable. There will be three rounds with questions in each round. Each correct answer will earn the team five points. If two or more teams tie for total points after the third round, additional questions will be asked of only those teams; questions will continue until the tie is broken. The team with the highest total points becomes the Advancing Team for that round.

What do you get when you win?

The satisfaction of working on a team and reading great books. There are also small incentive prizes throughout the program. The City Final winners will have their picture on the website until the next year’s books are announced.

What are the benefits of this program?

  • To promote the love of reading (and have fun).
  • To introduce children to a wide variety of literature (and have fun).
  • To encourage children to participate in a group activity (and have fun).
  • To encourage children to read for retention.
  • To provide a positive learning experience for children, librarians, teachers and parents (and have fun).
  • To form partnerships with local schools and businesses and strengthen community ties.
  • To build confidence and integrity in young readers (and have fun).
  • To participate in a public Library activity that promotes reading as a pleasurable lifelong experience.

How long has this program been around?

In the late 1930s, two Chicago school librarians developed a program to test young readers’ knowledge of good literature. The program reached thousands of Chicago school children and was quickly turned into a weekly radio quiz program known as “The Battle of the Books.” Questions about characters, plots and settings were answered by teams representing public elementary schools. Answers were usually the titles of well-known fiction books and biographies.

The Global Reading Challenge, designed by Terry Lason of Kalamazoo, MI, uses the Battle of the Books format and promotes the reading of fiction that celebrates the world’s diverse community. Mary Palmer brought the program with her from Kalamazoo Public Library. The first Seattle Global Reading Challenge was in 1995.

We, as a Library system, continue to be committed to choosing books for our challenge that present many points of view, and which portray Immigrant, BIPOC, Neurodivergent, perceived Disability, LGBTQ+, Poverty and Homelessness experiences. We are interested in celebrating marginalized communities, opening the door to multicultural stories, and allowing kids the opportunity to engage in a perspective that may not be their own.

Where does the money that funds this program come from?

This program is paid for by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and a host of wonderful sponsors. It is donation-funded, not tax funded. We buy a set of 8 books for each participating team and donate those books to Seattle Public Schools Libraries after the competition each year.  We sponsor author events for schools, and partner with a variety of community-based homework help sites who support elementary aged reading.

Global Reading Challenge Past Years' Books

Global Reading Challenge logo

Since 1996, we have partnered with the Seattle Public Schools on the Global Reading Challenge. See previous years’ book choices and explore other books you might like here.

Participating Schools