At a recent Battle of the Books competition, the Oceanlake Menjas put their heads together to quietly discuss a question and quickly give an answer to the moderator, LCSD media specialist Doug Hoffman. Timekeeper Ineka Estabrook, seated, carefully clocks their allotted 15 seconds while teacher Jacob Tolan keeps score.
The Oceanlake Menjas are, from left, Noelani Napoleon, Alyssa Tanksley, Emy Stecher, Juliette Vold and Margery Price, pictured with their coach Jacob Tolan.
Reading usually is a quiet and solitary activity. However, Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) brings intense competition and a hushed excitement to the activity, with students relying on brains rather than brawn to be victorious.
Perhaps more important than the competition is how the activity encourages the love of reading, develops teamwork, and pushes kids to read genres they ordinarily wouldn’t select, says Ineka Estabrook, a parent volunteer coaching a team at Newport Intermediate School.
“OBOB gives kids another area in which to shine, off the sports field,” Estabrook says. “This is a chance for a bookworm to win an award for what they’re good at.”
Several weeks before the actual competitions begin, students form teams of four members with one alternate. Then, on their own time, they begin reading from a list of books (16 each for students in grades 3-8 and eight books each for grades 9-12). To help broaden students’ reading interests, these books cover a wide range of topics and genres, from realistic fiction to fantasy, science fiction to biography, from mystery to historical fiction.
During a Battle of the Books competition, two teams are pitted against each other. A moderator asks a question about one of the books on the reading list to gauge reading retention and understanding; it is essential for participants to be able to recall every little detail about each book they have read. Then, team members literally put their heads together, whispering and working together to come up with the correct answer within 15 seconds, which promotes cooperative learning.
Newport Intermediate School/Isaac Newton Magnet School hosted a Battle of the Books competition on March 1, providing valuable competitive experience to their school teams and those from Oceanlake Elementary and Toledo Elementary. Taking top honors that day were the Oceanlake Elementary Menjas (grade 6-8 division) and the Newport Intermediate Epic Minds (grade 3-5 division).
On March 10, six teams from these four Lincoln County schools traveled to Corvallis for a regional competition against 55 other schools. Regional winners will advance to the state competition April 14 at Chemeketa Community College in Salem. Even though the local teams fought hard and represented Lincoln County School District with distinction, they did not advance to the state level. Last year was the first time Lincoln County participated in Oregon Battle of the Books, represented by teams from Newport Intermediate and Isaac Newton Magnet School.
According to the OBOB website, students in third through 12th grade, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoints. The OBOB mission is to encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading, to broaden reading interests, to increase reading comprehension, promote academic excellence, and to promote cooperative learning and teamwork among students.
This program is run completely by volunteers through the Oregon Association of School Libraries and funded partially through the Library Services and Technology Act.