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Draper Journal

Battle of Books springboards Channing Hall students into summer reading

Jun 24, 2019 10:34AM ● By Julie Slama

Nine-year-old Watson Carr was one of the few students who read all 20 books to prepare for Channing Hall’s first ever Battle of the Books competition. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This summer, Channing Hall fifth-grader Lily Worthley may spend the summer curled up with a good book — one of the books students read as part of America’s Battle of the Books for their school competition this past spring.

“I read all the books but five, and want to read the rest this summer,” Lily said. “I really liked ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society.’ It was suspenseful, happy and sad at the same time. I really liked reading some of the books I never even knew existed and competing on the same team as my best friend.”

Most of Channing Hall’s third- through fifth-grade students took part in the school’s first Battle of the Books challenge, said third-grade teacher Kristin Brown.

“The purpose is to encourage students to read good books and have fun while competing with their peers,” she said.

Leading up to the battle, students were placed in teams of about five students within their own grade to compete. Each student was to read four of the books assigned, but they could read more of the books on the list to help their team. 

Then, similar to the “Family Feud” television show, the teams would answer comprehensive questions about the book by naming the book and author. The teams with the most points at the end of the battle moved on to the next round until the final round determined the grade-level winner.

Nine-year-old Watson Carr was one of the few students who read all 20 books.

“I wanted to read all of the books; I wanted the challenge,” he said, adding that by reading them, he knew all the answers and could help his team win. “Reading is fun and it takes me on adventures. I’ve learned about different authors and writing styles, such as Kate DiCamillo is more detailed, JK Rowling has more action and Rick Riordan is more suspenseful.”

Parent Michele Brinkerhoff, who served as a judge, had her third-grade son, Ryan, and sixth-grade daughter, Ava, compete. 

“My son loves reading and he read all the books, and it’s great for him to discover all the different genres,” she said. “My daughter is thinking outside the box and learning different perspectives and emotions of the characters from the books she read. I like how this is healthy and friendly competition. The students practice their public speaking skills by being able to stand up and answer the question and also, learn how to work as a team. They’re learning to respect others’ opinions and celebrate together. I think this is a good way to let every kid shine.”

Students who competed in the Battle of the Books were given a lanyard and as they read books, they were able to place a pin with the book cover on their lanyard as a memento of their reading accomplishments. Students who read all 20 books on the list as well as those teams who won were celebrated in a school assembly.

But the real success story is students picking up more books, including different genres than they usually read, said Channing Hall librarian Missy Badberg.

“This is getting them excited to read books, some they may not pick up otherwise,” she said. “They’re paying attention to titles and authors and will help them springboard into more reading. Many students are excited to read the rest of the list this summer and are taking part in summer reading challenges.”

Bringing Battle of the Books to Channing Hall was Brown’s idea.

“I love it because I’m big on books and it increases our reading comprehension,” she said. “Our kids can get stuck just reading one kind of book, but now they’re opening their minds to others. Books can teach them so much about the world. I’m hoping to do it again next year as so many of our students are excited about reading more books.”