It was a pleasure to be the jury on so many entries this year. The number of people participating went way up this year. We are delighted. It demonstrates that a large number of people are discovering the joy of reading in English for pleasure. The books were more than classroom assignments. They were a change to explore to ideas (non-fiction as well as fiction).
Of course, the large number of entries made our job more challenging. There were so many good entries. Also, with so many levels – they ranged from adults and university students all the way down to elementary school. Comparing those presentations and essays went beyond comparing apples to oranges…even including mangoes and bananas.
The range of books also added to the challenge. Some books dealt with social and political issues (Martin Luther King, 1984). Others were about personal growth (Billy Elliot, Forest Gump). Still others were movie tie-ins (Lion King, Toy Story.) The range made it harder to compare, but the range is also part of the beauty of extensive reading: People choose books they are interested in. If you like love stories, read love stories. If you like mysteries, go for those. Non-fiction, fine. Whatever you love, there are probably graded readings in your favorite genre.
A few hints for people entering the contest next time
Hint 1: Be sure to note the word limit on the written essays and the time limit on the presentations. Sadly, a few good entries had to be disqualified because they were too long. It wouldn’t be fair to compare those to entries that were much shorter.
Hint 2: Don’t introduce your report by saying “I am going to introduce my favorite book “The Avengers”. You are wasting words, just start with something like “I really liked “The Avengers” because… .”
Hint 3: Connecting events in the story to your own life or to current issues is a good idea. It shows deeper understanding and an ability to generalize.
Hint 4: Don’t just read from a script. If you can’t remember it, have someone hold the script in large letters behind the camera. Be sure to look at the camera.
Hint 5: Use a loud voice and try to have a pleasant expression on your face. Don’t look serious!
Hint 6: Practice speaking in phrases connecting your words together smoothly and rhythmically with an English intonation pattern.
Hint 7: You are talking or writing about a story you love. Let your passion show. It makes your entry more interesting.
Finally, congratulations to everyone who entered.
To the teachers who encouraged their students to participate: thanks for making a difference. You are giving them the tools to succeed both now and in the future.
To the students: Thank you. Readers are leaders. You are the future.