Reading Olympics Coaches

Here is everything you need to know about being a coach for the Reading Olympics!

We couldn't host the Reading Olympics without our coaches! We are so thankful for all that you do for your students. Thank you to our coaches who have been with us for 15+ years and to the teachers considering signing up. Please look through all the information below to make sure you understand the responsibilities of coaching and are prepared to support your team! If you have any additional questions please email

Coach's Manual

Timeline. How it Works:

  • December: Registration opens and book-lists are posted to Free Library website.
  • January: Registration closes.
  • February: Teams are assigned competition sites.
  • March: Sample practice questions are uploaded to Free Library website.
  • April: T-shirts ready for pick up by Reading Coaches.
  • May: Reading Olympics!

Team Selection & Scoring

Teams are made up of 6 to 12 students from grades 4 through 6 (Intermediate teams) and grades 6 through 8 (Middle School teams). Teams are encouraged to be inclusive and have a mix of gender, age, and reading ability.

Teams will be asked questions about each of the 15 – 20 books. Intermediate teams (4th grade through 6th) answer 20 questions. Middle school teams (6th through 8th) answer 15 questions. Team members collaborate on the answers and one team member (the team captain or designee) responds. Teams have only 15 seconds to answer the question.

Each team participates in three (3) rounds of 15 or 20 questions each. Each question answered correctly earns one point for the team. If the first team cannot answer their question in 15 seconds, the second team will have an opportunity to do so, earning an additional point for their team (see the protocol on page 14 of Coach's Manual).

Team scores are cumulative for all rounds. Teams are awarded blue, red, or green ribbons based on the total number of points earned.

Intermediate Teams:

  • Green Ribbon: Below 30 pts.
  • Red Ribbon: 30 – 49 pts.
  • Blue Ribbon: 50 – 60 pts.

Middle School Teams:

  • Green Ribbon: Below 25 pts.
  • Red Ribbon: 25 – 34 pts.
  • Blue Ribbon: 35 – 45 pts.

Coach Responsibilities

Teams are encouraged to come up with a team name such as "Reading Rascals." Teams are also encouraged to decorate the back of their official Reading Olympics t-shirt with their team name and logo to help create unity and excitement. These t-shirts must be worn to the competition, usually over school uniforms. Considerate and courteous behavior is expected from all participants. Your team represents your organization or school. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend the competition as spectators.

One of the major responsibilities of the team coach is to set the appropriate tone for the competition by reinforcing the two goals of the Reading Olympics:

  • To instill a love of reading in young students.
  • To teach cooperation and teamwork.

A team coach:

  • Meets with the team periodically to make sure all books are being read before the competition in May. It is the expectation that teams will practice at their center, library, or school by using practice questions, creating their own questions, and holding book discussions on an ongoing basis.
  • Is responsible for arranging and paying for transportation to and from the event.
  • Communicates with the Free Library Reading Olympics staff as required.
  • Accompanies the team to the Free Library Reading Olympics event and supervises the team participants.
  • Encourages parents to support at-home reading, offer to serve as escorts, and to attend the event.
  • Prepares the team by practicing the competition protocol (see page 14 of Coach's Manual).
  • Previews all resources before using them with the students to be sure that they are appropriate for their particular group.

Sample Questions

  • The questions asked at the competition are very straightforward and factual questions. They usually relate to the plot, characters, or setting, and the answers are easily provable.
  • The sample questions provided here are meant to give you an idea of the type of question that will be asked.
  • All questions begin: "In the book," followed by the book title. The answers are provided below the question in parentheses.
  • Sample questions will be posted in March 2020.

Recommended Vendors

Towne Book Center & Café:

  • To order your books, please visit Click on "Schools and Businesses" (to the right of the Towne Book Center logo) and then click on "Reading Olympics 2019-20" in the drop-down menu. Look for the "Philadelphia County Reading Olympics" section and follow the directions to place an order or request an order sheet.
  • Books are discounted at 30% and may be ordered as a set or individually. Shipping and handling charges will be $10.00. All orders are shipped directly to your school via FEDEX. The Towne Book Center & Café accepts purchase orders (School District of Philadelphia vendor number 1012592), school checks, or credit cards for payment purposes. Please be sure to order the correct list for your team (Intermediate vs. Middle School).
  • If you have any further questions about ordering, contact Sarah Danforth by email at


Individual texts may be available in paperback here.


Sometimes the titles are cheaper through Amazon.