Patty Golumbia and Holly Mair, teacher-librarians at South Island Distance Education, have launched a Read Across Canada challenge for their students. (Courtesy of Holly Mair)

Patty Golumbia and Holly Mair, teacher-librarians at South Island Distance Education, have launched a Read Across Canada challenge for their students. (Courtesy of Holly Mair)

Victoria students gobble up books on virtual trek across Canada

Nearly 40 South Island Distance Education students are participating

Each page read is another kilometre tread along the Trans-Canada Highway for Victoria distance learners taking part in the Read Across Canada challenge this month.

Patty Golumbia and Holly Mair, teacher-librarians at South Island Distance Education Schools (SIDES), launched the challenge on Jan. 1 as a way to engage their students safely during COVID-19. Within six days, the 37 K-12 students reached Regina, Sask., and Mair said she expects them to reach the east coast by mid-January.

The journey is a collective one, with each page read by any one of the students contributing to the overall total. For younger students, pages read to them by a parent or guardian also count. To prevent older students from completing the trip too fast, Mair said they’ve also placed a 100-pages per day limit.

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Students enter their daily totals into a spreadsheet, and each time they reach a new location an image of the city or landmark is revealed with a short description. In Craigellachie, B.C., students learned it is the “location of the ceremonial ‘last spike’ of the Canadian Pacific Railway.” In Calgary, Alta. they found out “Calgarians enjoy more sunshine than any other major Canadian city.”

The students get to choose their own reading material and have been gobbling up books like The Angel Experiment by James Patterson, Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland, Lord of the Flies by William Golding and Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi.

Students have been so engaged with the challenge that Mair and Golumbia have decided that once they reach the east coast they’re going to turn around and travel all the way home again.

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