Are your kids bored? Saying that they have nothing to do this summer. Are you ready to pull out your hair one strand at a time waiting for school to start? I remember those long summer vacations trying to find activities to fill my munchkins’ days. I signed them up for everything from art classes and karate to swimming and tap dancing. But a favorite activity was a trip to the local library.
At Nipomo’s one room library in our small town, Nick and Jess would stroll past the shelves looking for that special book which piqued their interest. And usually they’d find one to curl up on the bean bags with. However, on some days there were no books that called to them.
That’s when I wished I had a list of interesting books for them to read like the lists on America’s Battle of the Books. But back then I wasn’t a coach for my school, like I am now.
What is Battle of the Books? It is a reading incentive program for students in 3rd thru 12th grades. Students read books from a pre-selected list of highly-regarded children’s authors and come together usually in groups to test their knowledge of the books they have read. School districts then host competitions in a Family Feud/Jeopardy type contest.
I’ve been coaching my school’s team for 6 years now and have loved watching the students grow as they’re exposed to great children’s literature. We meet weekly to discuss the books, play games to memorize authors, and read some of the books together. All the while, each child’s confidence grows both in reading and in his/her ability to work with others and contribute to a team.
Finally, at the end of the school year we get ready to participate in the district wide battle to compete against other schools. Every year I get choked up watching my team. Although they come from diverse backgrounds and have challenges that range from learning disabilities to homelessness and neighborhood violence, these kids put their heads together to answer every difficult question. With pride.
If you’d like more information about this wonderful non-profit organization, how you can organize a team at your school, or simply would like to peruse their website’s book selection lists for different ages see: http://www.battleofthebooks.org/
A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles. She also cowrote Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.