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Battle of the Books is an extracurricular academic reading activity for fourth and fifth grade students who enjoy reading challenges and competition.  Its purpose is to foster the enjoyment of reading high quality books and to come together in friendly competition answering questions about the books with other students while practicing good “readermanship.”

Frequently Asked Questions

 What is Battle of the Books?

Kenosha’s Battle of the Books (BOB) began in 1986.  It is academic extracurricular reading program for fourth and fifth grade students in public, charter, private, or parochial schools and homeschooled/independent teams (must have an adult coach/advisor) that enjoy reading challenges and competition.  The purpose of Battle of the Books is the encouragement of reading high quality challenging books and coming together in friendly competition with teams from participating schools.  The emphasis throughout the battles is focused on the challenge of learning and the fun of collaborating and competing.  Kenosha’s Battle of the Books is a collaborative program between the Kenosha Unified School District, Carthage College, the Kenosha Public Library, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and the Kenosha News.  Carthage College students moderate the tournament battles.

 Who can participate in Battle of the Books?

Any fourth or fifth grade student who enjoys reading and attends a Kenosha public, charter, private, or parochial school participating in Battle of the Books can join a school team.  Homeschooled and independent teams may participate providing there is at least one adult coach or advisor working with the team.

 What are the requirements for participating in Battle of the Books?

Student participation requirements for Battle of the Books are:

·       be a fourth or fifth grade student,

·       enjoy books and love reading,

·       read eight books or more from the booklist (number determined by each team),

·       write questions for books on the booklist,

·       attend team meetings and practices,

·       battle against other teams during the March Battle of the Books Tournament (two Fridays), and

·       practice good “readermanship” (sportsmanship).

 How does it work?

Schools participating in Battle of the Books announce and recruit interested fourth and fifth grade students.  Teams are formed and members read books from a list of approximately thirty-five nonfiction, fiction, poetry, biography, and picture books.  Coaches and students meet at least weekly (before school, at lunch, or after school) at school to read and discuss books on the BOB list.  As books are read and discussed, questions are written for practice.  A team culls and selects the “best of the best” questions and submits them for the Battle of the Books Tournament.  Students continue to read and discuss the books through-out the five or six months of preparation time.  Before the March tournament battles, coaches will select the final ten school team members that will compete – six key players and four alternate players.  On two Friday afternoons and early evenings in March, school teams meet to battle at a determined site.  On each tournament Friday, school teams (no more than ten members) participate in a number of battles against different teams to earn points.  During the battles, each team is asked ten questions about the books in a quiz bowl format.  Accumulative scores are kept during the two nights of battle.   All readers are recognized and awards are presented with a Parade of Teams and a Celebration following the battles on the second Friday evening.  Emphasis is placed on the reading of quality books, team work, and good “readermanship.”  Everyone is a winner in Battle of the Books.  On the second Friday, teams are served a snack after the last battle and before the Parade of Teams.

 In the best of times, an equal number of teams register to participate in the Battle of the Books Tournament and no team withdraws at the last minute.  However, over the years, there have been times when an unequal number of teams register and/or a team drops-out.  When there are an unequal number of teams, it is necessary to form an alternate team (All Star Team) at the last minute.  The All Star Team consists of six to ten members.  The Team Member Sign-In form is divided into two sections.  The first section will list the team’s six key players and the second section will list the team’s four alternate players.  If an All Star Team is needed, please volunteer an alternate team member to participate.  To ensure equity, All Star Team members will participate on the alternate team throughout all five battles of the afternoon/evening.  Switching members between battles will not be permitted.  Should an alternate team be needed on the second night of the battles, another All Star Team will be needed.  An alternate coach will accompany the All Star Team.  Numerous adults will be present to ensure the safety of all participating children.  All Star Team members and coaches will join their school teams during the Parade of Teams and the Celebration.  They will be recognized for their exceptional service at the Celebration.    In the past, team members who have volunteered for the All Star Team enjoy the opportunity to participate in most battles and meet new friends.  In addition, students who serve on the All Star Team provide a community service and experience the value of contributing to a cause. Thank you for your understanding.

 Due primarily to space issues, families are not permitted to observe the team battles on the two Friday afternoons and evenings.  Families are invited to attend the Parade of Teams and the Celebration activities.  Only team members, coaches, moderators, school officials, committee members, and honored guests are permitted in the battles.  No exceptions will be made except by the decision of the Battle of the Books Committee.

 Transportation to and from the Battle of the Books Tournament is arranged by the school team coaches.

 Who are the coaches?

Generally, coaches are school librarians, teachers, and parents interested in providing fourth and fifth grade students with an opportunity to read quality books.  In some schools, interested college students also serve as assistant coaches. 

 How can my child participate in Battle of the Books (BOB)?

If your child is a fourth or fifth grader who likes to read, check to see if your child’s school is participating in the Battle of the Books Tournament.  If the school is sponsoring a BOB Team, contact one of the BOB coaches for information.  If the school is not offering a team and you are interested in becoming a coach, talk with the principal about forming a team.  Find other adults who are interested in becoming coaches to assist you.  Contact the Battle of the Books Committee or coaches from other schools with questions or for help.

 Who creates the BOB booklist and who writes and selects the questions?

Thoughtful and inclusive are two words that best describe the book selection process.  After the theme for Battle of the Books is announced, school coaches and representatives from Kenosha Unified School District, Carthage College, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and the Kenosha Public Library are asked to recommend books for each genre.   The selection committee reviews, researches, discusses, and selects books for the list using a set criteria.  The criteria is as follows:  theme, documented grade level, reading complexity (easy, at/average, and challenging), interest, gender focus, cultural/ethnic emphasis, format of the book, and if the book is new, enduring, or has been on the list in prior years.  In addition, award winning and recommended books are always considered.  Books are checked for availability in the school and public libraries and for purchase.  The booklist consists of approximately thirty-five books in seven different genres - non-fiction, fiction, poetry, biography and picture books.  The Library of Congress records are used to create the book list titles/authors/illustrators to be recited during the tournament. Books are based on a theme.

 Questions for the Battles of the Books Tournament are written by the team coaches/adults and students and are submitted to the BOB Committee for culling and selection.  Each team is required to submit five to eight questions per book.  Questions should focus on the setting, characters, problems, events, details, and solutions. 

Sample question format:           

Question:           In which book does a girl study the Wall Street Journal?

Answer:              Page: ____         The Westing Game          Raskin (Last name is sufficient)

 If the book is a picture book, the name of the illustrator as well as the author needs to be included even if the author is also the illustrator.

Where can my child locate the books on the Battle of the Books list?

Books on the 2015 – 2016 Battle of the Books list are located in school and public libraries (most books) and can be purchased online or in book stores.  Some books may be available as an eBook.  The current booklist will be available in September of each year.

 Does my child have to read all of the books?

No, school teams will determine a strategy for deciding who will read what books and become the team expert on the complete book titles, authors, and illustrators.  Coaches should contact families with reading expectations.

 How can I help my child prepare for Battle of the Books?

·       Be familiar with Battle of the Books, its booklist, calendar, and rules.

·       Communicate with your child’s Battle of the Books (BOB) coaches.

·       Get involved with your child’s BOB team.

·       Know the school team’s expectations.

·       Set reading goals and develop a plan for reaching the goals.

·       Set a daily routine for your child to read, take notes, complete fact sheets, and write questions.  Log each book read. Keep a folder of notes, questions, fact sheet, and log.

·       Read and discuss BOB books with your child.  Ask questions to strengthen knowledge and understanding.  Try the “I read to you and you read to me” strategy. 

·       Be your child’s cheerleader – be enthusiastic, patient and encouraging.

·        Be sure to recognize and praise your child’s efforts.

·       Don’t leave home without a book!

·       Be sure your child gets enough sleep and eats healthy before the March Battle of the Books Tournament in March.

·       If your child is selected to be on the All Star Team, recognize him or her for helping in a time of need.

·       Demonstrate good “readermanship.”  Everyone is a winner in Battle of the Books because they read good books and came together in friendly competition. 

·       See the Resource Page for more suggestions.

 What are dates and times I need to remember?

September 2015            

·       Battle of the Books begins on September 14, 2015.

·       Interested students join teams – meeting dates and times determined by each school team.

·       Family information sent home.

September 2015 – March 2016

·       Read books and hold team practice meetings.

·       Create Peace Posters (November 2, 2015 – January 29, 2016).  Peace Posters due on February 5, 2016.

·       Written questions due on January 22, 2016. 

March Madness!

March 4, 2016

·       Battle of the Books Tournament begins – first five battles (approximately 4:15 to 6:30 p.m.).  Site to be announced.

·       Vote for Top March Madness Five Books.

March 11, 2016

·       Battle of the Books Tournament continues – second five battles, Parade of Teams and Celebration (approximately 4:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.).

·       Conduct coach, family, and student online surveys.

 Can parents/guardians watch the battles during the tournament?

Parents/guardians are invited to attend the Parade of Teams and the Celebration after the last battle on the second Friday of the tournament.  Primarily due to space, only team members, coaches, principals, Battle of the Books committee members and staff, media technicians, news reporters, and distinguished dignitaries are allowed to observe the battles.  Parent/guardians are not permitted in the classrooms to watch the battles.

 Can I watch a Battle of the Books battle?

Yes, see the link to the YouTube – Elementary Battle ofthe Books.

Where can I get more information and/or can I talk to someone who has done this before?

Many Kenosha schools have participated in Battle of the Books over the years.  Experienced coaches, librarians, and families are usually able to answer questions and provide tips.  In addition, the Battle of the Books Committee welcomes your questions.  If you have a questions or concern, please contact any Battle of the Books committee member.  Watch for announcements and updates on the Battle of the Books Website.