"This celebration is for those who read," said Robert Depke, librarian and teacher at Frederick School in Grayslake.
That was when he still had a full head of hair.
As part of the seventh annual Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award celebration at Frederick School on March 22, students who read all 20 of the Caudill books got to shave Depke's head.
Depke said the award is presented annually to the author whose book was selected by fourth- through eighth-grade Illinois students as their favorite. This year’s winners was announced at the celebration. See the list of winning books here.
After playing a quiz show style game with the students about characters and plot lines from the books, Depke allowed students to shave off his hair.
The Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award is an annual award given to the author of the book voted most outstanding by students in grades four through eight in participating Illinois schools. The award is named in honor of Rebecca Caudill who lived and wrote in Urbana, Illinois, for nearly 50 years, Depke said.
The award is given in recognition for Caudill's literary talent and the universal appeal of her books. Depke said the contest motivated students to read a variety of challenging books.
"In addition to all of their other homework, these kids are reading above and beyond the requirements," Depke said.
Last year’s landslide winner for both the state of Illinois and at Frederick School was Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The movie based on the book was just released last weekend.
This year's winner at Frederick School was Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka.
"I liked this contest because I like to read," said Noah Adams, a fifth grade student in Mrs. Sloan's class at Frederick School. "My favorite is Woods Runner because it was very descriptive. My favorite part was when he loses his parents but then he finds them."
"I like this 'cause you get to read and then you get to have fun," Adams said.
Michael Trabulsy, fifth-grade student in Ms. Barna's class, said it was a good contest. "I like that we get rewarded to read books so that we are more motivated. My favorite book was Every Soul A Star because it relates to kids in our grade. There are kids who were shy, outdoorsy, girly...in the story. That is like real life. Kids could relate to that."
Principal Eric Detweiller said the program helps encourage kids to read at home.
"You can see the number of kids doing this and how enthused the get about reading," he said. "These books are chapter books that they read. It encourages the kids to be independent readers. We have great teachers here who are focused on how to get kids - especially boys - to read for fun."
District 46 school board member Sue Facklam attended the book celebration.
"I am amazed because all of these books are so different," Facklam said. "It gave the kids a wide variety of books to choose from."
Several students read all 20 books. Those super readers got to shave Mr. Depke's head.
Lizzy Moens, a fifth-grader in Ms. Barna's class, said it was "weird but fun" to actually cut his hair.
Sami Neuzil, a sixth grader in Ms. Schweizer's class, agreed it was "kinda weird. He made me cut a really big piece!"