Why did you start the Iowa High School Battle of the Books? Susan Fritzell (TAG teacher at Marshalltown High School) and Sue Inhelder (Teacher Librarian at Marshalltown High School) started IHSBOB during school year 2007-2008 when many of our incoming freshman wanted something similar to the middle school battle of the books. We had never tried anything like this before, but wanted to meet the needs of our kids. We opened the competition to AEA267. Sixteen teams competed in May, 2008 and we all had a blast (and learned many things along the way!). In the 2008-2009 school year we advertised state-wide and opened competition to all Iowa high school students (grades 9-12). Over 80 teams registered!  It is our hope to continue this event annually.

How do you create the list? We compile the list from the previous years’ winners from the following awards: Iowa High School Book, Alex, ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults, Coretta Scott King, Scott O’Dell, Newberry, Schneider, Pura Belpre, Printz William C. Morris, YALSA's Nonfiction Award, YALSA Teens' Top Ten, or Nebula's Andre Norton Awards. You can learn more about these awards by clicking the links to their websites.  Our goal is to have 28 titles.  

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines...are you really serious about them?  Yes we are.  We've already stretched everything to the maximum.  Failure to meet any of the deadlines takes your team out of the competition.  WE DON'T WANT THAT!  Please make sure you are aware of and meet all deadlines so your students can enjoy the competition.

    Here is the list of deadlines:
    Registration:  Postmarked NLT January 31st
    Coach Survey:  Completed online February 15-24
    Online Battle (Multiple Choice and Author):  Completed online March 1-29
    Confirmation of attendance to Grand Battle:  April 4

How do we register?  See the registration page to access the registration form. Print and complete the registration form AND mail the form along with $5/team by post mail. Postmark must be NLT than January 31. Please check the list of registered teams so you don't pick the same name as another team. It is no longer necessary to complete an online registration.

When is registration due?  Can that date be extended?  Registrations are due each year and must be postmarked no later than January 31st.  This date cannot be extended...mail early to avoid a last minute delay!

How much does it cost? Registration fee is $5 per TEAM. Specific names of team members are not collected until the coach's survey so you can switch team members as you want until then. Please send your payment by check (no cash or POs please) made to the order of Marshalltown High School. Sorry, no refunds.

What should we name our team? Be creative, pick something that will distinguish your team among others and reflect the personality of your school and students.  Team names, once registered, cannot be changed so please choose wisely!  Many teams create t-shirts to wear to the competition. Check the teams already registered so you don't pick a name already in use.

How many emails will I receive?  Three to four.  The first is to confirm your registration, the second to give you online testing information, and lastly to invite qualifiers to the Grand Battle (this also includes information regarding the Grand Battle).  Because email is not always dependable, we request that you monitor this site for announcements and be sure to label emails from read.ihsbob@gmail.com as NOT JUNK.  Refresh if you visit often!  Concerned you've missed an announcement?  Just ask read.ihsbob@gmail.com!

Who can be a coach/sponsor? Teacher-librarian, teacher, staff member, administrator, parent, coach, public librarian, volunteer. Your school can offer guidelines as to who is able to meet with students on an extra-curricular basis.

Can only a teacher librarian or talented and gifted teacher sponsor a team? No, please share this competition with teachers in your building!

Can an adult sponsor more than one team? Yes, but... you'll want to be able to read with, interact with, coach, and travel with your team... you should be the judge of how well you can do that with multiple teams. At the Grand Battle competition an adult from each team serves as reader/judge/timer/helper.  Each team needs to bring an adult....so if you coach more than one team, be sure to find a parent or co-teacher to attend with you!

Can a team have more than one adult coach/sponsor?  Yes, but... only the first-listed adult will receive emails and testing information.

Who can be on a team? Up to 6 (six) Iowa students (public, private, or home school) in grades 9-12 (or grade equivalent) may be on a team.  Students MUST be in grades 9-12 (or equivalent) to connect with the content and reading level of the books.  Sorry, younger students are not invited to participate in this competition. See the Resources Page for Middle School BOB competitions.

Can there be alternates? The short and simple answer…No. Teams may include as many as 6 students and only those listed on the coach's survey to compete as part of the team in the qualifying tests may attend the oral finals. For example: 6 students take the online test and qualify for the oral rounds. The team competing in the oral round must be from that group of 6 students. No changes are allowed after the online testing. All 6 do not have to travel to the oral rounds, but you can’t substitute another student for someone unable to travel.

Does every student need to read every book? No, that's why you are part of a team.

What is the coach's survey?  We ask that coaches complete a survey for each team. The survey is open February 15-24th.

What are the qualifying tests like? A multiple choice test will include one question from every book on the list. Students will complete ONE test as a team in an online format. They will also be asked for the first author's full name for each title (spelled as written on the book list posted at this site). The author test gives credit for correct spelling...capitalization, punctuation, and symbols are not scored (so you can ignore tilde and umlaut).  This test(s) will be taken at the home school under proxy of the team coach (we're counting on honesty here, folks) during March 1-29 (no print/electronic notes or books are allowed). One hour is allowed for the multiple choice and thirty minutes for the author test (they may be combined as one test or separate depending on competition size). The top 16 teams in the state will then be invited to attend oral rounds in Marshalltown in April. Author scorings are used in the case of a tie breaker.  If additional layers of tie breakers are required, the dates/times of the online quizzes will be used (earlier testing dates/times favored). We use a testing site like Classmarker.com or similar for the testings.

What are the online qualifying test questions like? These are multiple choice. Here are some sample questions from previous years:

     1. In the book Into thin air, who was the leader of the author’s expedition?
         a. Ian Woodall
         b. David Breshears
         c. Scott Fischer
         d. Rob Hall
     2.  In the book Blind Faith, where was Nathan born?
         a. Wellfleet
         b. Hyannis
         c. Nantucket
         d. Brewster

What are the online qualifying author questions like?  These are fill in the blank.  Students should list the first author's name as it appears on the book list of the website.  If there is more than one author listed, only the first author should be supplied.  Special characters, symbols and punctuation are not scored.  Here are some sample questions from previous years. Full name means first name or initials, middle name or initials, and last name.

     1.  Who is the author of Sharp Teeth?
                    Answer:  Toby Barlow

    2.  Who is the author of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone?
                    Answer: J.K. Rowling

The test window says March 1-29th, can that window be extended?  Basically, no.  The timeline is really set in stone to allow everyone equal chances and allow the coordinator to tally scores and get ready for the next round.  A strong hint here is to take the survey and tests early in the testing windows so you don't have to worry about weather or technology problems.
What are the Grand Battle rounds like? Four teams gather in a center (there are 4 centers) for 4 timed rounds of short answer questions for every title on the list. Students are asked questions in a random order one team at a time with an option to earn reduced points if the first team does not answer correctly. At the end of 4 rounds, the top 4 teams will advance to a final round determining 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. The final round of the top 4 teams will be held (in a game show format) to determine the top battlers of the state!  Coaches will serve as judges for all competitions~come ready to participate!

Can we wear fun team t-shirts? Absolutely! Team t-shirts are DEFINITELY popular at the Grand Battle (take a look at battle pics on the website). It's so fun to see the creativity your students bring to the battle! We encourage the design of shirts that promote reading, your team, your school; but request that shirts do not contain prompts for the battle titles. Students are not allowed notes of any kind at the battle and that would include paper, electronic devices, clothing, skin, etc. School-appropriate clothing is the expectation; sorry, no costumes, masks or hats.

Can parents and spectators attend the Grand Battle?  We wish, but our space is limited and there is only room for competitors, coaches, and chaperon/parent drivers.  Someday....

What are oral round questions like? These are short answer. Here are some samples from previous years:

     In the book Hawksong, what goddess did Zane swear to during the ceremony?
     In the book Elijah of Buxton Mrs. Holton gives Mr. Leroy $2,200 so he can buy what?  
     In the book Mister Pip what was the topic of Matilda’s Thesis at University?
     In the book Tamar: A Novel of espionage, passion and betrayal name 3 of the 6 things William left in the shoebox for his granddaughter.
     In the book Jellicoe Road which character is always saying, "Me?"?

When are the online tests? Multiple choice and author tests will be taken at the school where your students attend March 1st-29th.  The Coach Survey, Multiple Choice and Author test are all offered through a testing site similar to Classmarker.com.

What's the difference between an adult "coach" and "sponsor"?  Nothing!  We just can't remember which term to use!