Wednesday, January 18, 2012

IDITA-READ + free signed ICE ISLAND/Random House to teachers


The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Mushers and their faithful huskies cover over 1,049 miles in 9–15 days. The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the skills of sled dogs and mushers. It also honors the 1925 Serum Run in which countless numbers of Eskimo children in Nome had been exposed to the highly infectious disease diphtheria. The serum was transported to Nome by dog teams in the ancient tradition of Native Alaskans, who had mastered the art of using dogs for winter transportation.

Today, teams race in blizzards and whiteouts, sub-zero temperatures, and gale-force winds. Temperatures often dip to below −100 °F (−73 °C). The current fastest winning time record was set in 2011 by John Baker with a time of 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. This year's race begins Saturday, March 3rd.

1.  Teachers explain to their students that they will compete in their own Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Their race will be a reading race.
2.  Each student  draws a musher ‘s name from entries on the Iditarod website:  Each day during the race, they’ll try to read faster (pages or minutes) than the number of  miles covered by the musher they have drawn.
3.  Teachers will track each student’s progress on a large map of Alaska.  (Tracked by daily visits to the website during the race.)  The goal is for students to read faster than their musher is traveling down the trail.
4.  Students select their books before the ‘vet check.’ Teachers will decide if the student’s books are “healthy” (grade/ability level).
5.  As students read to each checkpoint, they’re responsible for logging in their time and having it checked by a race marshal (teacher).

1.  Students read 1,049 minutes or pages appropriate to each student’s reading level.
1.  Large map of Alaska with Iditarod Trail & checkpoints clearly marked.
2.  Legend listing distances between checkpoints.
3.  Name pins/tags to mark students’ reading progress on the trail.
4.  Sleds or dogs (felt or construction paper) to mark progress of mushers.
5.  Iditarod Reading Log for each student.

1.  Encourage recreational reading.
2. Develop an interest in history and geography of Alaska.
3.  Encourage completion of a project.

ICE ISLAND (Random House, 2012) was inspired when Sherry visited St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, after the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It was mid-March and bone-numbing cold. Sherry was startled by the sight of polar bear hides drying on racks, and amused by children playing with chunks of ice like blocks. She thought, One of these days I’ll use these in an adventure story.

FROZEN STIFF (Random House) was inspired by a summer press trip to Alaska, where she spent a week kayaking to the largest tidewater glacier in North America.
FROZEN STIFF has been used in the classroom as a companion for Call of the Wild and Julie books and has been on several state reading lists, including Battle of the Books nationwide.

As part of her research for photo-illustrated DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: The Story of the Jr. Iditarod (Mondo), Sherry rode inside a dog sled for the first part of the 1,049 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Sherry is the woman sitting is the sled!

Sherry is thrilled to be the first ever recipient of the SCBWI Book Launch Award for ICE ISLAND.

From the WorldWide IDEA:Read a Route Website:

Author Offers Signed Book to Kick Off Idita-Read 2012 Registration Opening

Earlier this week, author Sherry Shahan wrote me with an amazing offer to WorldWide IDEA's Idita-Read 2012 Team Managers: a complimentary signed copy of her new book, ICE ISLAND (Random House, January 2012) to the first 10 who contact her.

Several teachers have already registered for our 2012 event and the book offer has been passed along to them, but there are still complimentary copies available. I expect them to go fast, so don't wait to register for the event for the chance to get this free, cool book for your students to read during the event and beyond!

ICE ISLAND is an Alaskan-based adventure for readers aged 9-13. It is the story of two kids who get lost in a freak snowstorm during a training run with their sled dogs. The pair must rely on each other — as well as their faithful dogs — to survive subzero temperatures and bone-numbing exhaustion.


  1. Looks great, Jill! I'll be sure to pass it along!

  2. Oh this is great! Thanks for the heads up! I teach Stone Fox and Akiak every year! This will be a perfect addition! (notice my overuse of !!!!!? Yeah, I'm excited)



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