Elementary students in Washougal School District battled it out in a most unlikely location, their libraries, as a part of the district-wide Battle of the Books competition.
"The Battle of the Books competition is sleuthing out the intricate comprehension details of each novel,” said WHS Library Media Specialist, Hillary Marshall. Students read at least six books from a pre-determined list of 15. During the competition students are given questions about content and answer by identifying the book title for five points and the author for an additional two points. Teams have 30 seconds after the reading of the question to give its response through the team captain. If the team gives an incorrect title or author, the opposing team may then pick up points for that question with the correct answer.
The competition is for 4th and 5th graders at all Washougal elementary schools. Teams consist of four to six players. The preliminary rounds were held Friday, April 17th, with the top two teams from each school battling it out at the Grand Battle on Friday, April 24 at WHS. The winning team, from Cape Horn-Skye, was Ryan Langston, Immy Hinchliff, Rose Hinchliff, Sophia Krasnogorov, Gavin Keyser and Trey Keyser.
Participation in this second annual event was high. Gause Elementary had 30 students qualify for their school's battle and Hathaway Elementary had 35 students. Cape Horn-Skye Elementary had a whopping 80 student compete at their school level. “All together almost 30% of the district's grade 4 and grade 5 students read enough books to qualify for a school battle and a trip to Washougal High School to support their classmates competing for the title,” said David Tudor, WSD Curriculum Director. “The students and library staff have worked very hard to make this a fun and exciting event.”
Planning for the event began in Fall with Marshall and the elementary library assistants, Kathy Stanton, Hathaway; Marlene Leifsen, Gause; and Tammy Asbjornsen, CH-S.
“The students who participate love the competition,” said Leifsen. “As a librarian, I see students check out a book every week, do their 20 minutes of reading and return the book, unfinished. I love seeing the kids enjoying and finishing books. It's also really fun for me to get to know students better personally.”
“The students get a lot out of this competition by learning what team work is all about,” said Asbjornsen. “Our students build valuable speaking skills while giving verbal summaries of the books they have read. Students are also exposed to different types of genres that they have never read before. They gain self-confidence and pride within themselves but most of all a love for reading.”
This year’s theme, “Race into Reading.” Guest speaker, Sam Reigel, talked to students participating in the Grand Battle about biodiesel technology and how he converted his automobile to run on refined vegetable oil. The theme also inspired some extra fun during the preliminary battle days. At Gause, students were treated to a “gas station lunch” featuring corn dogs, and at CH-S, motocross and race car driver, Kelly Harness of Camas, brought his racing bike and talked to students after their outside picnic lunch. Harness stressed the importance of reading in his line of work. “When I have to get into an engine and do repair work, I have to be able to read the instruction manual to know what I need to do,” he explained.
High school students also participate by volunteering to read the battle books to help create questions for the competition. They also served as team leaders, escorting the elementary student to each battle venue, and time and score keepers during the battles. They also planned and ran indoor recess activities for entertainment during the luncheon. "Our high schoolers love this leadership opportunity to inspire younger readers and they are always amazed how well the elementary students know the intricate details of each novel," said Marshall.
The final grand battle and award ceremony took place in the WHS auditorium. Jamie Dotson from iQ Credit Union was on hand to present books purchased through their Read With Me literacy program that gives a $75 grant to literacy programs that inspire lifelong reading. “This money was used to purchase books from the Scholastic Warehouse to reward our high school students for all of their help with the event,” Marshall said. “Each high school student who participated received a book they selected to call their very own.”
“I think for young children to pick up a book with more than 30 pages is very daunting to them,” Asbjornsen said. “When they first look at the battle books, any books for that matter, they think that the book is too big and that they can't finish it. But once they do, it is very gratifying for them. I love it when students come up to me and tell me that they really like a certain book.”
“For me it is all about the love of reading,” said Stanton. “I enjoy reading as entertainment and through this experience these students are getting the chance to develop that love and become lifelong readers.”