Franklin Countys First News

‘Iditaread’ brings sled dogs, books and fun to Mallett School


Mark Turner introduces students to his sled dog team.

FARMINGTON - Students at W.G. Mallett School will be mushing to the local library this month, as the school's annual Iditaread event kicks off on Monday, March 9.

Filling in for the sled dogs, students will read books and work with their musher, or teacher, in a bid to be the first group to reach Nome. The event mimics the famed Alaskan Iditarod race, known as "The Last Great Race on Earth," which begins tomorrow. The actual race pits sled dog teams and mushers against each other and the 1,000 miles of wilderness that stretch between Anchorage and Nome.

On Thursday, Mark Turner from Jay visited students at Mallett School to help inspire students to participate in the event with a visit from his sled dog team. Turner told students that the Iditarod sparked an interest with his son at an early age which ​encouraged​ his son read all the Iditarod books he could get his hands on. With his son’s enthusiasm, Turner invested in their own dog sled team and has been “mushing” ever since.

Turner brought five of his racing dogs, including his favorite “Muddy." He demonstrated how to harness a sled dog and hook them to the dog sled. He shared some of the specialized equipment with the students as well as his wealth of knowledge of the sport.

The Iditaread event has historically involved grades 1 through 3, although new school librarian Amanda Roberts made the decision to include Kindergarteners after the 3rd graders departed for Cascade Brook School.

"Reading looks very different for a Kindergartener," she noted, "so we focus on the different ways of reading, including reading the words but also looking at the pictures and finding the meaning."

For the Iditaread, the school will be tracking dog sled teams progress as they advance to all 26 checkpoints on a poster displayed outside the library and conclude the event with a school-wide assembly at the end of March. Dog sled teams will receive medals and certificates of completion.


Mark Turner shares some books on dog sled racing in the classroom.


Mark Turner with one of his dogs.

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  1. I recently published an online, fully editable IditaRead Google map, corresponding Microsoft Excel workbook and instructions. Articles with instructions and links are at