By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Battle of the Books encourages reading, teamwork

Marcus Larson / News-Register
Members of a Columbus School Battle of the Books team put their heads together to figure out an answer.
Marcus Larson / News-Register
Members of a Columbus School Battle of the Books team put their heads together to figure out an answer.

Three fourth-grade girls on Team Dynomite bent their heads together, whispering furiously. “’Clementine,’ by Sara Pennypacker,” they answered.

“Correct! You win five points!” the emcee said.

She then turned to the opposing team, The Bookworms. She asked, “In ‘Umbrella Summer,’ by Lisa Graff, what does Annie search for in her mother’s bedroom?”

The questions continued, directed at first one team, then the next, until the match was over. There were 16 questions in all, eight about specific content and eight seeking the title and author of a book.

Similar book battles have been going on at many elementary and middle schools in the county over the last few weeks. Dozens of teams have been competing in building-level tournaments.

Locally, top teams will advance to the regional battle on Saturday in Woodburn. District winners will qualify for the state BOB finals, to be held at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.

Each team member read 16 books to prepare for the battles. The elementary BOB list for 2014 included “Abraham Lincoln,” “Kenny and the Dragon,” “Who was Neil Armstrong?” and “Pie,” as well as “Umbrella Summer” and “Clementine.” The middle school list included “Bigger than a Bread Box,” “Magyk” and “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.”

“I read a bunch of books that were so wonderful,” said Savannah Kindred, a member of Columbus School’s Team Dynomite. She said she signed up for BOB because she is really good at reading.

Teammate Angelina Lockwood said she also loves reading.

“When I read, I feel like I’m traveling to a new world,” she said. Her favorite of the BOB books was “Waiting for the Magic,” because it featured talking dogs.

Another fourth-grader, Amber Homen, said she loved her first year in Battle of the Books. “I spent time with my best friends, reading and competing. It was fun challenging how much we know,” she said.

Lauren McLaran liked the fact that BOB was about more than just reading, which she would do anyway. “Battle of the Books helps me work with a team better,” said Lauren, a member of the Bookworms.

Like the Columbus students, kids at all participating schools are hooked on Battle of the Books. So are parents, librarians and teachers.

“It gets kids excited about reading, and about reading books they might not have chosen,” said Natalie Reed, president of the Columbus Parent-Teacher Association. It also teaches them teamwork and the give-and-take of working in a group, she said.

At Columbus, and most other local schools, Battle of the Books is supported by the PTA. Members of the organization and other volunteers run the battles, reading the questions and keeping score. They will also accompany teams to the district event on Saturday — and they hope to go on to state, as well.


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