IditaRead Digital: The Last Great Reading Race Reaches Over 21,000 Students

On February 7, the Iditarod Education Department launched the new digital version of a favorite Iditarod classroom activity, an Iditaread.  Embracing technology and realizing the need for virtual and digital tools for learning, the education department and our technology partners developed version 1 of the IditaRead Digital. And you, our Iditarod teachers, responded immediately and with the enthusiasm of a dog team lunging into their harnesses at the start line. Over 500 teachers registered to reach over 21,000 students!

Here are some projects teachers shared on how their students mushed to the finish line.  From finisher’s banquets to awards ceremonies and simply motivating students to read – IditaRead was invaluable in motivating students to read, read, and read some more, and it gave teachers a way to track assignments and collect data on their readers.

From Beth Herden at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming:

This year, the Lincoln Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming participated in the online Iditaread.  Our Club specializes in grades K-2 but all members up through age 12 are welcomed.  The Iditaread was so much fun for our members!  We follow the path of the mushers during the Iditarod each year.  This year was extra special because our members who participated in the Iditaread got to watch their names progress through the very same trail that the mushers were on. Our Iditaread was set up just for reading this year- a skill that we struggle with at our Club.  For every 10 minutes the members read, they moved to the next checkpoint.  If they reached the halfway point, they got a small prize.  If they finished, they received the Finisher’s Certificate and earned a big prize.  It was incredibly heart-warming to see our members, some of whom do not like reading, to ask if they could read.  Many of our members read up to 30-40 minutes each afternoon! They read traditional books, they read online, they read alone, and they read to each other.  Christopher H.,age 8, said, “I liked doing the Iditaread because I learned so much from all the books!”  Jake L., age 6, loved reading along with the books on Storyline Online because, “I like how the pictures move during the story.”  Our Club read a total of 1,810 minutes and 14 Club members finished the Iditaread.  This was such a great experience and a huge success at our Club.  We will definitely be using the Iditaread digital tool in the future!

From Mary Bohringer of the West Side Elementary:

During the month of March the West Side students were busy learning about the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. A 975 mile dog sled race that takes place in Alaska the first Saturday in March. There were a lot of surprising things that happened this year.  After learning about the Iditarod they participated in a reading challenge~The Iditaread.  The students kept track of their reading minutes to move their teacher’s sled down the trail~1 minute was equal to 1 mile. No one made it all 975 miles but there is always next year.  Our school read a total of 5,351 minutes. Winner of the Iditaread Challenge was Mrs. Barton’s 2nd grade class.  They enjoyed a “gourmet” dinner for being the first class to get to the Ophir South checkpoint.  The race was close.  They only beat Mrs. Rufledt’s Kindergarten class by 6 minutes.  Just like in the Iditarod classrooms, the student to reach a checkpoint first received a prize. For every reading slip that a student turned in, their name was entered into a drawing for basket giveaways and a sparkly new bike.  Thank you so much to PTC for the help in purchasing some of the prizes. Congratulations to all the winners!! It was so fun to see everyone excited about reading!

From Teresa Swoope Campbell at Abingdon Elementary School, VA:

Celebrating our Iditaread accomplishments and goal completion with an Iditaread Finishers’ Banquet was the perfect way to end our inter-disciplinary unit on the Iditarod and Alaska for my 5th graders.  11 reading assignments were set as checkpoints for our Iditaread challenge that began the first week of March, close to the start of the 2021 Iditarod. Students were recognized for being the first in their homeroom to reach the finish line, for finishing the 11 assignments before the winning musher crossed the finish line, or for finishing the “race“ before the deadline.  The banquet food included chocolate covered strawberries displayed on a dog sled (a traditional food item from the real Iditarod finishers’ banquet), trail mix, ice cream, and red Koolaid (there’s a great finish line story about red Koolaid). Some fun prizes included new pickup trucks (pocket sized of course) and a gnome in honor of Nome.  

IdtaRead never expires or ends – you can use it through the end of the year and all summer, too.  If you are involved in teaching a summer reading program of any kind – school, library, summer programs, etc. – use the IditaRead to keep students moving along the trail.

And please share any stories and pictures you may have of your own IditaRead experience. Email Jane Holmes at