Today my 5th grader participated in the North Carolina Elementary Battle of the Books. I love these competitions. They gather a group of kids who love reading, have them read a list of books that are both in and outside of their comfort zones, and then challenge them to a battle quiz bowl style. It is very much like the bookish March Madness. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but there are some similarities.
The philosophy behind the competition is “to encourage reading by all students at the middle school level. Students, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoints by prominent authors in the area of young adult literature. The game format creates interest and excitement in reading. Through the fun and excitement of the competition, students improve reading skills, mature in their choices of reading materials, and acquire a broader knowledge base. Even during the height of the competition, students and coaches should remember that the goal is to READ, not necessarily to win!”
One of the harder things for the students to comprehend that even when you bring your A game, you might not walk away the “winner,” but that by participating and doing your best, you are definitely ahead of the crowd. The school with the most points “wins,” but there are so many variables that go into getting those points, including sheer luck of the draw on questions and the various teams you are up against (if one team gets the answer wrong, the other team has the chance to get a few extra points on redirect). Our team came in third place today, but I couldn’t be prouder of them!
This is the second year that we have participated in the Battle of the Books. They lowered the EBOB list from 18 books to 15, but that is still a lot of books and they have to have such detailed knowledge of them that they are encouraged to read them multiple times. I will admit that I didn’t manage to read all of the books this year, but J read them all at least twice. She learned that she wasn’t a real fan of the book Pax, but fortunately, another one of her teammates absolutely loved it. We were both completely enamored with Extra Credit, and that book sparked me bringing Multicultural Children’s Book Day to our school. J had already read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and The Candymakers multiple times, so those were a piece of cake for her. I really enjoyed Among the Hidden, and am realizing now that I never reviewed it here, but that it deserves its own post.
Next year, we will be moving up to the Middle School Battle of the Books team. That list features a whopping 27 books that the kids need to read! I just volunteered to be an assistant coach and help in any way that I can, so that means I get to read all 27 books as well. What I love about this, when looking over the list, is that the books cover such a wide range of genres and topics. Want to talk about seeing the bigger picture about the world around you? Read this list of books! Middle school kids will get the opportunity to, among other things, read about Alexander Hamilton, learn of the plight of Lithuanians during WWII, consider the life of a 7th grader in 1967, imagine a cyborg Cinderella, and find themselves in a dystopian, futuristic prison. A few of the books are even written in verse! Schools that want to make life for kids who participate in Battle of the Books could easily put many of these titles onto their required reading lists for various classes.
So you are going to see a lot of these books reviewed. It will help me stay accountable and keep track of the stories. What a fun ride!