IditaRead™ Challenge

Join an IditaRead™ and race from Anchorage to Nome!

An IditaRead is an excellent way to encourage students to read.

An IditaRead™ is held in connection with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race® —  the Iditarod Trail and the Iditarod Mushers are used as ‘benchmarks’ of reading progress for students.  Most IditaReads are held in February or March, with a stronger emphasis during the Iditarod.  Some educators hold semester or year long IditaReads, encouraging students to read more all year long.

Each year hundreds of IditaReads are held all around the world.  Iditarod began promoting IditaReads (or Idita-Reads) in the 1980′s.  The first known educator to hold an IditaRead was Peg Stout.  (DeeDee Jonrowe’s mother.)

What is an Idita – Read?

  • An Idita Read is a project that challenges students (or adults) to read.
  • Reading goals are set up according to the learner’s needs.
  • An Iditarod Trail map is used to chart the readers progress – reading from checkpoint to checkpoint – Anchorage to Nome.  Some schools use hallways in the school building to represent the various checkpoints and students show their progress by moving their ‘marker’ down the halls.  Other schools use larger maps which accommodate all participants in the challenge.
  • Checkpoints are ‘reached’ by meeting the goal of reading a number of minutes, pages, or a book for each checkpoint. (Sample goals:  Reading 1049 minutes, Read one book for each checkpoint, Read number of pages as miles on the Iditarod Trail Race Route.)
  • Miles from checkpoint to checkpoint are sometimes used as benchmarks equating to the number of minutes, pages, or books  read.  Younger students accumulate ‘miles’ by having an adult read to them.
  • Results: Teachers have documented that students read more during ‘Iditarod’ than any time of the year!!!

Map Option 1 – Download and print out a map to use for recording progress of individual readers.

Map Option 2 – Download and print out a map to use for recording progress of individual readers

Additional map options can be found by clicking here.

Go Green:

  • If you must print a map, print in draft mode and have students color their maps.
  • Consider laminating the maps you print out so they can be used again.
  • Save the map to your computer.  Have students copy and paste the map into their document.  Students can then use paint and drawing programs to chart their own progress on the computer.

*Please note, we are in the process of updating this page.  Apologies for broken links, they’ll be repaired soon!  Please check back.

Click on this to use the Iditarod forms for your students.  Tip:  Ask students to save the forms to the computer.  Students can then type on the form instead of printing out the forms to practice ‘green’ habits.

To use a map to track student progress in an IditaRead™  follow these directions:    

First click on the image to view the larger version of the image.

Next, right click on the image to save the image to your computer.  (Save Image As)

Choose a name such as, “Diane’s Iditarod Trail map” (only use your name!) so you can easily locate your map on the computer.

Once you have completed that step, go to the PAINT program and open that program.   Select: File and then Open.  Locate the image on your computer.  (Find it where you saved it!)

After your map is on your screen, select a color and tool (such as the spray paint) to trace your progress along the Iditarod Trail.  Be sure to save the map so that race progress is updated.

Each students can save their own map and use it to show their progress during the IditaRead™.

For those who do not have a PAINT program on the computer, click on the map to enlarge the view.  Print the map.  Use markers to trace your progress or glue colorful stars or stickers on the checkpoints to show reading progress.  Print in gray scale to save on ink.

Optional method of recording progress using these bookmarks to record the book titles. Coming soon!

Teacher’s tool:  Award Certificate Coming soon!

Teacher’s tool: Bookmarks to download for students. (Coming soon) Give as rewards or incentives!

*Special thanks to teacher, Sheila Blair, for sharing the forms she used with her students.   Her ideas were used in the creation of the forms for this article.

For additional information on Idita Read projects™ click here.

Editor’s note:   Hundreds of schools around the nation have created incredible IditaRead projects that align reading goals and use our race, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, as the project’s theme. Teachers have provided testimony that an Idita Read project is engaging to students and that students are empowered to read more during an Idita Read project than other times of the school year.   Students enjoy reading and ‘racing’ the mushers from Anchorage to Nome.  An IditaRead™ program can be used at any grade/reading level and be designed to meet individual or group reading goals.  We salute those schools and teachers for using the race as a tool to encourage students to read more!

An example of a school project that exemplifies an IditaRead can be found at this website link.  This Idita Read project is run by Sally Javier of IDEA.

Jeff King

(Homeschool with Interior Distance Education of Alaska, a part of the Galena City School District.)  At this link, you will find many great ideas that you can adapt to your own classroom or school IditaRead™ project.  The IDEA Idita Read project that Sally Javier facilitates for homeschool families each year serves as a modal for a school district wishing to create or design their own Idita Read™ project.  As education director for Iditarod, I applaud Sally for her dedication to encouraging students to read and thank her for willingness to share her ideas with others.

Photo of Jeff King, provided by Sally Javier.

Other successful IditaRead projects have been run by Sheila Blair  (Click here to learn more) and this project in Wisconsin.  (Click here.) Check back for other examples soon to be posted!

The education department does encourage teachers or schools to create their own IditaRead projects using the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race as inspiration for the project.  We welcome your using  the race theme or our materials (or creating your own materials to use), but do not give permission for you to create an IditaRead project to sell to others.  If you do discover an IditaRead project that requires you to pay a fee to participate in the IditaRead, keep in mind this is not an official Iditarod project and permission to sell an IditaRead™ — Iditarod Educational Department and the Iditarod has not granted permission for selling an IditaRead.

We encourage teachers to create an IditaRead program that ‘works’ for their own students because we know that our race is an inspirational tool to encourage your students to read and learn!   Students have fun reading, enjoy racing their musher to checkpoints and into Nome, and many students discover new books and authors along the Idita-Read Trail!

We’d enjoy hearing about your IditaRead projects and your success.  Please send an email. We’ll post your ideas to help others create projects for their students.

Record books read on “books” to fill a sled.