Battle of the Books

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Where we come from, Battle of the Books is a big deal.  Each spring, the North Carolina School Library Media Association publishes a list of 15 books for 4th and 5th graders and 27 books for middle schoolers.  Students don't have to read all the books, but should read a few of them so they can contribute to their team.  The following school year (usually right after Christmas break) students begin competing on teams to answer trivia questions about the novels.  There are school competitions, district competitions, and regional competitions.  Last school year, I was fortunate enough to participate in two rounds of district competition with an amazing team from my classroom.

I love everything about Battle of the Books.  Anything that gets kids not only reading, but fighting over who gets to read what book next, has full support in my classroom.  EBOB (elementary battle of the books) gets my students excited about reading like nothing I've ever seen.  It involves teamwork, planning, cooperation and turns students (many whom normally wouldn't enjoy such a role) into leaders.  It's so much fun to coach and to watch! 

With that said, there are always a few holdouts and I try not to force kids to participate in the actual EBOB.  What I do instead, shamelessly, is force them to participate in my own class version at the end of the school year.  I have created over 1,000 Battle of the Books style questions for novels that I either teach or assign for homework throughout the year.  During the last week of school, we'll have our own class Battle of the Books.  My hope is that some students gain confidence through this activity to participate in actual EBOB next school year.

I group students into evenly balanced teams and make brackets using this free website.  In actual EBOB, every team plays every other team so if there is time I set up it up that way instead.  Sometimes I do two different rounds-- one in which I assign teams and then another where they pick their teams.  The possibilities are endless.  Actual EBOB teams have up to 12 members and 6 are competing together at any given time.  For a classroom version, I make my own rules as I go.

In order to prepare for our class battles, I print out EBOB questions for all the books we've had that year and make stacks of questions for each group on a large table.  I shuffle the questions so that they aren't all from the beginning of the book on top.  Then, I simply grab one question from each pile (or at least from most piles) and slip them into a envelope, one for each battle.  My EBOB sets contain 36 questions per novel, so there are enough questions to have at least 36 battles.  

You ask ten questions each round (five to each team, with a chance to steal if the first team misses it-- called a "redirect" in EBOB).  I try to include more than ten questions in each envelope so I can skip over any that I don't particularly like that day for whatever reason.  I've stored the question envelopes in a binder in plastic sleeves so that I can use it year after year.  I keep adding to the envelopes for each round, and during the battle I just skip over books we haven't read this year.

*ALL my Battle of the Books products are on sale for 20% through Friday in my TPT store.*
If you own the following bundles, EBOB questions have JUST been added at the same price so download your bundle again: 
Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia, Bunnicula, Charlotte's Web, Dear Mr. Henshaw, The Egypt Game, I Survived the Eruption of Mt. St. Helens, 1980, The Last Holiday Concert, The Lemonade War, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Magician's Elephant, and Rules.

If you have questions about EBOB or would like to know more, I'd love to hear from you!  You can read more about the Elementary Battle of the Books here and the Middle School Battle of the Books here.  This is my absolute favorite last week of school activity... Check back here next week and I'll add some pictures of our class battles!

Update: 6/2/17
We got back all our Comprehension Packets for the year and started reviewing for next week's battle!