Thursday, October 21, 2010

Presenting the WrestleMania Reading Challenge Smackdown!

by Stephen J. Gertz

Madison Square Garden. Within a locked steel cage, two men, two books. Jay "The Great" Gatsby and Rowdy Roddy Reader square off, trading passages from the Barset Novels of Anthony Trollope until the audience begs for mercy and cries "Uncle!"

The WrestleMania Reading Challenge is now in its fifth year, and changes have been made to make double-sure that the challenge is real-real, not real-staged.  The result must be like Caesar's wife, beyond suspicion, the other caesar's wife, Linda McMahon, another matter altogether. The Challenge now will take place over seven days, during Teen Read Week. Registration, alas, is now closed.

Here's how the Challenge has been modified:

• Contestants will no longer be allowed to carry razor blades, typically used during the competition to draw blood and paint the drama in the sanguine hues fans crave.

• The Chokeslam, Moonsault, Piledriver, Brainbuster, Doomsday Device, Powerslam, and Powerbomb moves have been outlawed. They tend to upset concentration while perusin' text. The Speedread, Bookslam, Pageturner, and Leafblower, however, remain legit.

• To participate, students will pledge to read five books or graphic novels between Teen Read Week and WrestleMania 27 on April 3, 2011.

• Students who want a chance to win the trip to WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta will need to complete a special project.

• Grades 7-8 and Grades 9-12: Form a tag team of your favorite character from literature and your favorite WWE Superstar, and describe and/or illustrate on an 8.5x11-inch piece of paper the strategy you would use to defeat the current WWE Tag Team Champions (“Dashing” Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre). Teens may use art, drawing, collage, poetry and/or writing alone or in any combination in creating your project. All projects must be the original work of the individual teen. Only one entry per person.

• Grades 5-6: Design a bookmark illustrating a slogan created by you that promotes reading. All projects must be the original work of the individual tween. Only one entry per person.

The students chosen as Grand Prize Winners represent their libraries at the WrestleMania Reading Challenge World Finals in Atlanta on April 2, 2011 and win their libraries $2,000 grants and other prizes.

The WWE WrestleMania Reading Challenge is sponsored by YALSA (Young Adult Library Servicce Association) and World Wrestling Entertainment, with support from Mattel, Penguin, Cold Stone Creamery, DK Publishing, E1 Entertainment, and Topps. The program encourages teens and tweens to read during Teen Read Week and beyond. By doing so, they can win prizes donated by WWE and other organizations. The goal of this program is to reach reluctant readers and get more teens reading beyond Teen Read Week by implementing a reading incentive program that provides prizes from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) as a reward.

"This is the fifth year of the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, and we are expecting our strongest participation ever,” said Gary Davis, WWE Vice President, Global Public Affairs.   “WWE remains committed to encouraging teens to read through our efforts with YALSA.”

“Partnering with WWE provides YALSA the chance to reach a wide audience of teens and tweens with a message about the vital role books, reading and libraries can play in their lives,” said YALSA President Kim Patton.

According to Nielsen Media Research, WWE's programming reaches 15.8 million fans each week, of which 23 percent is under age 18. That's a long reach to an age group crucial to capturing the book bug.

Read what novelist Will Weaver had to say about being part of the 2009-2010 Challenge in the Huffington Post!

Read what Bambi Mansfield, a library director in Michigan, told WWE about how joining the program has brought new users into her library!

See teen readers twist themselves and each other into The Pretzel while trying to comprehend  Finnegan's Wake!

With thanks to our friends at ALA-Direct for the lead (and much of the copy!).

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