Hugo: A Reading Contest for Kids of All Ages

Unlock the secret of reading

Update November 8, 2011: After two readers let me know they went to the Richmond branch and the Noe Valley branch where librarians were not aware of the contest, I investigated with the San Francisco Public Library this morning. It looks like all branches in San Francisco have received a packet with the entry forms and instructions but since the reading contest is linked to a promotion of the movie “Hugo”, libraries can decide not to set it up. If you express interest at your local branch, they might decide that it’s worth it. Regardless, you should call your local library to make sure they are participating. I thought that all public libraries were in on this but I was wrong. Happy reading anyway!

Initial post

Incredible news for our budding and experienced readers: kids of all ages can enter a reading contest until November 23, 2011 and enter to win prizes as exciting as a private screening of the movie Hugo for 100 people. When I say “kids of all ages” I mean it – even kids who can’t read can participate if their parents will read a book to them. Now, my blog is not connected in any way to this contest but as a mom and a fierce book advocate, I was so elated about a movie contest getting kids to read books that I made it a point to share the news. Plus, the movie can’t be all that bad – based on the award-winning Brian Selznick middle-grade historical fiction “The Invention of Hugo Cabret“, it has been adapted on screen by Martin Scorsese. Nothing less.

Here is how I learned about the contest: hanging out at the library. Last Saturday at the West Portal library in San Francisco, I was in the room for kids with my 6-year old who was playing on the computer. Waiting for my husband to pick us up after our other daughter’s soccer game, I was browsing the shelves for picture books when a green xeroxed paper caught my eye: “Unlock the Secret of Reading! Read and Win!” Oh, such a tease, I couldn’t resist.

There was an illustration of an old-fashioned key. I read quickly for details and all I could find was “See librarians for details!” Obediently, to the librarian I went. Though the child librarian wasn’t aware of the contest, another librarian at the front desk knew everything about it and brought me two entry forms with a smile. Gotta love the public libraries!

Here is what I found out and I would love it if you sent that to all families where you know children – especially boys. I keep reading that boys don’t like to read and it’d be great if this contest could motivate a handful to get out of video games to pick up a book.

Rules of the contest (drum roll please):

    • Go to your local library and find a small white entry form for the contest. At West Portal, it was by the check out machines. Your library might be set up differently. Good luck.
    • 2 entry forms are allowed per child
    • Fill in the info: child’s name, city, contact details, library
    • Turn the entry form over and write down the name of 4 books your child has read for the contest or 4 books that you have read to your child – no cheating! But I know kids love a good story so I’m trusting you on that one.
    • The book can be any book but I’m thinking the phone book wouldn’t be much fun to read – better ask your librarian for recs that are age-appropriate
    • Return to your library and drop the forms in the little box before November 23, 2011. That’s the day before Thanksgiving, in case you were wondering if you could drop it late. The answer is “not likely”.

As soon as I explained all the contest rules and prizes at stake to my 3rd grader, she couldn’t wait to get back home to start a book. This weekend she read Judy Moody: Around the World in 8 1/2 Days. This morning she picked up the copy of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief I had taken out of the shelves for her. She’s completely stressing out about not finishing on time but I know she’ll be OK. She’s a total book-eater. My 1st grader is a lot more relaxed since she cannot read so she’s asking me to read books to her.

At the end of the day, I told my girls it didn’t matter whether they won or lost the contest because by reading the 4 books at home, they’ve already earned a right to watch the movie with me when it comes out. Win-win situation, I can’t wait to read the book and see the movie myself!

Related events

Brian Selznick is currently touring the US for his new book Wonderstruck. I’m bummed I missed him in San Francisco last week. Try to catch him along the way, I bet he’s fantastic.

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Laure Latham

Laure is an author, environmental advocate, blogger, open water swimmer and now mother. She's passionate about inspiring families to enjoy the outdoors with their children, learning to unplug and living a healthy lifestyle, giving kids life skills and exploring the world around us sharing Family Friendly, Fun Ideas for the whole family on Frog Mom.

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