BATTLE OF THE BOOKS
Reading should be fun... but under the right circumstances, a friendly competition between readers can be fun too!
In the winter of 2016, the Muskingum County Library System hosted its first-annual Battle of the Books competition, which invited 30 fifth-grade students from John McIntire Elementary and Zane Grey Intermediate to read a selection of 5 high-quality juvenile fiction, and then prepare themselves for a Quiz Bowl-style competition. The success of our first event was overwhelming, with our auditorium nearly reaching capacity and several families expressing their gratitude for placing as much importance on reading and scholarship as we do with athletics. In fact, more than one member of the audience commented that it felt like a sporting event - and the participating teams definitely had their own cheering sections and coaches!
Funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation allowed us to purchase a set of books for each team, as well as to award the winning team with a shopping spree at a local bookstore! And in 2017 and 2018, we continued to expand the program, adding more participating schools and increasing the stakes. Our third year was all about surprises - including the last-minute reveal that two teams would be crowned the winners of Battle of the Books and both would receive the grand prize!
Since beginning this project in 2016, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awarded the Muskingum County Library System over $10,000 to sponsor the Battle of the Books. Just 30 students participated in the first year... but by 2018, over 250 students have participated in a semifinals or finals round of the competition! Plans are already underway to expand this project to include participants from all of Muskingum County, and the competition between schools only stands to heat up from here!
To make Battle of the Books work requires coordination between the library as well as its partners at Zanesville City Schools and Ohio University-Zanesville. Each year, student teachers from the Education program at OUZ have contributed all of the event's questions and answers, while the 5th-grade teachers at participating schools have always been more than cooperative and have done their part to encourage students to prepare for the competition.