More than 100 students were introduced to contemporary children’s fiction and interacted with local authors at a multi-school Read-In organized at Hillhouse High School’s field house Thursday.
The event, which took place from 6 to 8 p.m. and drew over 100 students, celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the “Book Bowl,” a competition in which teams from various local schools answer questions about selected books. The Read-In was planned to build enthusiasm for the Book Bowl, which is scheduled to take place in the spring.
Leslie Buliuz, author of “Fatma’s New Cloth,” said she was eager to meet the students as she stood in the field house holding a conga cloth from East Africa, the inspiration for her book.
“I think it’s a great idea — having everyone come together for a read-in,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing kids and always excited when people are excited about reading.”
Lyannyvette Pollanco, a fifth grader at Hill Central School, said she was excited to meet the authors who wrote the books she has read.
“We’ll probably get their autographs,” she said.
The Read-In also featured a variety of special activities, such as bookmark making, bingo and a raffle with prizes ranging from pencils to a Dr. Seuss board game. Books with eye-catching covers surrounded the New Haven youths as they meandered through the gymnasium and chatted with the featured authors.
“It pretty much helps us get the best books,” said Shawn Morris, a fifth grader at County West Hills Magnet School, as he rushed from table to table.
The Book Bowl’s aims to introduce New Haven children to new books and provide an incentive for students to improve their reading-comprehension skills.
“The best part of the Book Bowl is when you win and when you read new books,” said Edward Dasny, a fifth grader from Urban Youth who is planning to participate in the Book Bowl this year.
Demarte Daley, a fifth grader at Lincoln Basset School, said the Book Bowl’s friendly atmosphere increases students’ self-confidence and instills a passion for reading.
“It encourages reading and is fun,” he said. “The best part is when you go to competitions and you do well and you feel good about yourself.”
Robert Gibson, a Library Media Specialist at Hillhouse School, who helped organize the “Book Bowl” last year, said he is optimistic about participation in this year’s competition.
“Participation is increasing year by year as more people hear about it,” he said. “We really want people to participate.”
Each year, more than 40 schools and thousands of New Haven students participate in the Book Bowl, which began as a radio program in Chicago in 1938 and reached New Haven in 1996.
Last years’ Book Bowl winners, from Worthington Hooker School, led a parade on Thursday with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. in an effort to promote reading, said Kelly Auringer, a library media specialist at the school.