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The Student News Site of St. Charles North High School


The Student News Site of St. Charles North High School


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North senior promotes reading as member of Illinois Reading Committee

Max Fang
Senior Stephen Lynch reading last year’s Abraham Lincoln Reading Challenge books.

For the past two years, senior Stephen Lynch has been on a committee of about 30 students, librarians, and English teachers that makes the list of books for the annual Abraham Lincoln Reading Challenge. The challenge takes place every year; high school students across Illinois have the opportunity to read a variety of books from a select 20 decided by the committee, and vote on which one was their favorite to win the Abraham Lincoln Award.

Before the committee selects which 20 books should be included in the challenge every year, the Illinois Reading Committee takes in student recommendations to initially make a list of 150 books, all published within the past five years. This list is then cut down to 75 before it’s finally narrowed down to just 20.

“Students from across Illinois can recommend books to the IL Reading Committee for every year,” said Lynch. “The more recommendations a book gets, the more likely it gets placed in that initial 150 list, and again, the more recommendations it’s getting the more likely it is to go on to the 75 list.”

Once a list of 75 books is finalized, Lynch, along with the rest of the members of the committee, are assigned 15 books before meeting up virtually in February to discuss which of the books should be on the final list.

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“I spent about 7 hours on a Zoom call discussing the merit of these books, which books deserve to be on the list, why they did, why they didn’t,” said Lynch.

One of the main factors in this selection process is considering if the books in question will appeal to students. The main goal of the Abraham Lincoln Reading Challenge is to motivate teens to read more.

“A lot of the selection process goes to, ‘it might be a good book, but is it fit for teens?’ That’s one of our biggest goals; we want teen appeal because the whole idea is to kickstart this love for reading through this challenge,” said Lynch.

This is Lynch’s second year on the committee. He joined it upon hearing about it from the librarians at North.

“I was given a recommendation to join the committee,” said Lynch. “I had to write a little bit about myself, why I deserve to be on the committee, my love for reading, my love for books, the qualifications I had to say something about teen appeal and the integrity of certain books, I probably wrote a page or two on all of those topics.”

During his time on the committee, Lynch has enjoyed debating with the rest of the committee which books should make up the list of 20.

“Last year, I really enjoyed the committee, because there were a few books that I really loved that I’ve been able to fight for and get on the list,” said Lynch.

One of Lynch’s favorite books that he had to read for this challenge was Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

“Excellent sci-fi. For people who don’t like sci-fi, it was witty, it was humorous, it was by the guy who wrote ‘The Martian’, I mean, that itself is a glowing recommendation,” said Lynch.

Lynch highly encourages all students to recommend books for next year’s reading challenge by talking to your local librarians.

“The quality of books on the list are going to be the quality of books recommended by students and by teachers and by librarians,” said Lynch. “So if you read a good book, recommend it to be on the list.”

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About the Contributor
Max Fang
Max Fang, Video News Editor
Max is a senior, and this is his second year on staff. This year Max is serving as our Video News Editor. Max engages in student journalism because it keeps him connected with what's going on at North and allows him to pursue a passion for video making.

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