About the National Reading Competition
The National Reading Competition was launched in 1988 as part of the 40th Anniversary celebrations of Jamaica Library Service. At that time, it involved only the age group 9 to 11 years. With the accelerated success, heightened levels of expectation and enthusiasm from all stakeholders, The competition has expanded to include additional age levels allowing persons from ages 6 to 99 to enter and enjoy the benefits of reading.
The main objectives of the competition are:-
- To encourage and develop the reading skill
- Cultivate an appreciation of books
- Facilitate exposure to highly rated literature and foster continuing education for adults
As a highly publicized event, the competition assists participants in developing self-confidence, a zest for achievement and a life-long love of reading and learning.
Each year the Jamaica Library Service strives to produce a package that is interesting and challenging, yet enjoyable; one that reinforces reading as a positive and fun activity, thus hundreds of enthusiastic competitors are encouraged to vie for the top positions in this exciting competition which provides attractive prizes and a platform to share their love for reading with the wider Jamaica.
The National Reading Competition is organized annually over a five-month period, April to August. The preliminary round for children is held at individual service points/libraries. Following this, the top performers compete at the parish level. Parish Champions are then selected for each of the three age groups: 6 – 8, 9 – 11 and 12 – 14.
In 1999, a category for adults was introduced, involving persons who were 15 years of age and over. Then in 2006, the adult category was modified and now features two age groupings:
*15 to 20 years
*21 years and over
This additional feature allows for a more realistic grouping of the reading, comprehension and interpretation abilities of young adults versus the capabilities and views of older adults. The divisions recognize differences in expected levels of information exposure and knowledge gained. This was eagerly embraced by persons in these categories who have more chances to enter and win in the adult segment of the competition.
Testing at each stage includes a mix of oral and written elements such as letters, book reviews, and puzzles. The competitors’ ability to read, understand and interpret set books or excerpts of books are the main determinants for the selection of winners. The adult segment of the competition is run concurrently with the children’s segment and emphasizes the reading of mainly West Indian literature. The final stage begins in mid-July and culminates in the National Reading Competition Quiz Finals held at TVJ Studios at the end of August. One National Champion emerges from each category after these very competitive segments are completed. They are the individuals who, when all scores are tallied, gain the highest marks in their respective age categories.
The books used for the competition are carefully selected. The Jamaica Library Service selects reading material that is appropriate, of educational value and appeals to the particular age group. These books cover a variety of settings and themes-fantasy, realism, folktales, classics and adventure- and underscore reading as an entertaining activity. Special consideration is given each year to the inclusion of Caribbean stories or stories with West Indian characters.
Judging at all stages of the competition is carried out by an independent panel of experienced educators, local authors, and librarians.