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Saudia Arabia’s IPS Reads

By Kathy Decker
Saudia Arabia’s IPS Reads

IPS Reads is a two-week event that takes place at the International Program School (IPS) in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia designed to encourage students to have fun with their reading. A range of activities involves students in various ways. On opening day, we run a couple of reading drills in which we, as a school, simultaneously “Drop and Read” for 10 minutes at the sound of the bell. Students can be seen sitting in the halls, on the playgrounds, and all over campus with a book in their hands, happy to take a spontaneous reading break.
Our wonderful IPS volunteer moms held a Book Fair during the first week. In lieu of the library period for the week, students went to the gym to browse through hundreds of books—to read, to hear stories, or to place an order for a new book if they wished.
During this Book Fair, we held a photo contest. All photos included a student and a book. The winner was a fourth-grade student who received a sizeable gift certificate at The Bookcase in Bahrain. The Book Fair was open to parents one afternoon and many used this opportunity to purchase books for their children or for a future gift. We also included a couple of bake sales to raise money for future book fairs.
On another day we held a Reading Picnic, taking the opportunity to enjoy the lovely fall weather outside during our lunch period. Reading, relaxing, and eating was on our agenda. A few days later, it poured down rain, which is unusual here in Al Khobar, so we held a Snuggle Up and Read Day where we got cozy in blankets, brought out stuffed animals to snuggle with, and served hot cocoa with marshmallows while we read.
A Family Reading Night was a time for storytelling and for students to share their poems or stories during on open-mike session. Raffle tickets were passed out to all who attended. With a bake sale too, of course! Raffle prizes included more gift certificates provided by the book store.
Probably the most successful day was the Buddy Reads Day. We paired our older students with younger students and each took turns reading to the other. It was gratifying for all to watch the older students collaborate with their younger peers.
This IPS Reads event also provided a few opportunities to wear something besides the usual school uniform, which the students always enjoy. We had Hats Off to Reading Day (crazy hats) and Wear a Message To School Day (T-shirts). Our last day, we concluded with Storybook Character Day and held a grand parade for all of those students and teachers who dressed up as their favorite book character.
IPS Reads was extremely successful this year, building on past experiences. This year we placed the biggest order yet for new books. We had so many parents happily volunteer either to assist during the Book Fair, tell stories, read to the students, or drop off their fabulous baked goods. And best of all, our students were enthusiastic about the new books they discovered!

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