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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

The Last Great Race on Earth

I was first introduced to the Iditarod when I was in elementary school. We read The Adventures of Balto in class, and I remember feeling a distinct sense of wonder. The feeling started small, a light prickling in my mind, and picked up strength as I really thought about what it would take to compete in the Iditarod. The race is a testament to courage and tenacity, where dogs and handlers must be in complete harmony on the ice.

The Iditarod’s trail is over 1,000 miles long and is often referred to as the “Last Great Race on Earth.” And great it most certainly is. The standing record for completing the race is 8 days, 13 hours, and 4 minutes. Mushers must compete in temperatures that have been known to plummet below zero degrees Fahrenheit as they guide their dogs along the grueling trail.

A week seems long to us now, but imagine how a child must feel when thinking about a week of brutal temperatures, whipping winds, and the danger of a misstep on the ice.

These topics were easily introduced to my classmates through class read-alouds. Balto is not the only dogsledding book for children. There are books like Stone Fox, a fast-paced tale following a little boy’s desire to save his family farm by competing in a dogsled race, or the illustrated classic Call of the Wild, which features a dog protagonist that veers from his sled-dog training to eventually give in to his true nature. Books such as these leave children with a lingering respect for an almost unfathomable aspect of life in other parts of the world.

The Iditarod begins on March 7 in Anchorage, Alaska. Maybe it’s time for us all to snuggle up on the couch and read about these amazing dogs.


Look for The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto, Stone Fox, Ice Island, and The Call of the Wild online at scholastic.com/readingclub now.


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March 7, 2015