Spelling bees are a major part of a literacy awareness campaign in Canada..The campaign is called “Raise a reader” . A newspaper chain and our Post Office sponsor this campaign. To me this is largely a waste of money. Only the very best readers will bother getting involved in this, and I really do not think that knowing how to spell a bunch of obscure words is that useful a skill. I was listening to an interview at Echo Moskvi about the “History Olympics” program they have in Russia, where high school kids compete in their knowledge of history. I would enlarge it to include geography. I would leave out all modern pop culture or trivial knowledge that we see on TV quiz shows. Watching kids at different age levels compete in terms of their general knowledge would be more interesting than watching a spelling bee and more meaningful. In order to be successful, kids would have to read a lot. I think this would be more effective in promoting literacy, if it were promoted in the schools.