How do you stimulate interest in reading? Well, for some, it’s with a little bit of friendly competition. Students at Raft River Elementary School are vying for three positions on a team that will represent their grade at the Battle of the Books competitions to be held in April.
Librarians in the Thompson- Kamloops School District developed the competition to encourage and to recognize students who enjoy reading and to broaden reading interests. The district supplies the trophies and provides some financing for the program. Each school purchases the books from it’s own book fund.
Students have 12 books to read. Each match consists of 30 questions based on plot, details about characters and quotes from these books. Teams have 25 seconds before they are asked to hold up a sign with the name of the book on it. Team members are encouraged to confer with each other. They get one point for each correct answer.
Teacher-librarian Katrina Link runs the program at RRES. There are teams for Grade 3-4, Grade 5 and Grade 6-7. Each group holds regular practices to allow for the selection of team members. They practice answering questions, learn about the rules and learn tips on strategy and judging.
The book lists are available in September and students should have read all of the books by the end of February. Some teachers are reading the books to their classes. Answers to the questions in practice show which books the teams need to brush up on.
The district is divided into four zones with about 30 schools participating. The top teams from each zone advance to the district competition in Kamloops. There is no provincial competition.
A committee of teacher-librarians selects the books used for the competition. Selections are based on popularity, reading level and similarity to books the kids have liked in the past. Books from Canadian authors are included as often as possible.
The final criterion for selection is whether enough copies of each book are available for the participants. Bookland in Kamloops has been providing the books for the past several years; they also contribute some prizes.