Dramatic ending for Battle of the Books

How do you get kids to read more books? Make it a competition.

How do you get kids to read more books? Make it a competition.

Kent School District elementary schools did just that at the seventh-annual district Battle of the Books, bringing teams from all 28 grade schools together to test their knowledge of a long list of children’s tomes – and ending with high drama.

“It’s a love of reading. It’s competing as a team, getting your strategy ready for the competition,” said Mimi Vosper, a librarian and organizer of the event. “It’s just reading all kinds of books out there, and there’s new books every year. It’s a really neat event.”

Lake Youngs Elementary School was the defending champion at the June 6 competition Glenridge Elementary School, but two new teams ended up topping last year’s winner. Sunrise and Ridgewood were tied after the battle’s regular 40 questions covering the 19 books on this year’s list. Ridgewood came out on top in an extra round to claim the championship – the first one in the event’s history to be decided that way.

The Ridgewood team included Isabelle Ayers, Lesley Newcome, Linda Jensen and a girl named Jessica who asked to have her last name withheld. They and the Sunrise team were invited to the Kent School Board meeting June 11 for special recognition.

Battle of the Books is a reading-incentive program that encourages students to carefully read quality books that have been nominated for the Young Reader’s Choice or Sasquatch Award book lists. School librarians compile the questions for the competition.

Teams of four students read books from the predetermined list throughout the year and then collaborate to remember important plot elements as librarians challenge them with questions at each level of the competition. Multiple teams within each school competed for the right to represent their school in the district finals.

Vosper said the event was fun and beneficial for all of the 3,300 fourth through sixth-grade students who participated.

“We started out with only three schools participating in 2002, and now all 28 have been involved three years in a row,” Vosper said. “The kids are really enthusiastic.”