Haywood students bring enthusiasm for reading to Battle of the Books

By Richard Ploch | Apr 03, 2014
Photo by: Richard Ploch Madison Gosnell, from left, media coordinator Lisa Wood, and Molly Henson are pictured just before the 2014 Battle of the Books begins.

Midway through the Haywood County School Elementary Battle of the Books, Haley Gruner, a student member of the team from Riverbend Elementary, said that the battle is fun and all of the books are very good selections.

“We learn to pay attention to the story in order to answer the questions and learn to be competitive but not too competitive,” said Gruner.

But tension was high for the teams from Bethel, Central, Clyde, Hazelwood, Junaluska, Meadowbrook, North Canton, and Riverbend elementary schools in the auditorium of Bethel Elementary on Friday, March 28. Each team arrived dressed in colorful T-shirts inscribed with school names and creative images.

After snow day delays caused the battle to be rescheduled twice and after four and a half hours of exhaustive competition, Hazelwood and Bethel finished in a tie with the students from Hazelwood Elementary finally winning in a tie-breaking round.

Alexander Collins, a fifth grader at North Canton Elementary, said he read the books more than once and was a little nervous, but “the teachers encourage us to do our best,” he said. His favorite on this year’s list of quality literature for young readers is “Woods Runner” by Gary Paulsen, a story of a young boy’s survival as American colonists fought the British in the Revolutionary War.

The game format for the annual battle creates enthusiasm for reading as students apply to be on their school’s team; read and reread 18 books; practice with the media coordinator at each of their schools over many weeks; and finally compete with other schools in the district by answering questions about small details within the stories. The students’ ability to work as a team is critical to success. The selection of books is determined each year by the North Carolina School Library Media Association.

All of the county schools place a premium on teaching children to enjoy reading. According to the North Carolina Elementary Battle of the Books manual, “the purpose of the … program is to encourage reading by all students at the elementary school level. Students, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoints by prominent authors in the area of young adult literature. The game format creates interest and excitement in reading. Through the fun and excitement of the competition, students improve reading skills, mature in their choices of reading materials, and acquire a broader knowledge base.”

For elementary students who are already interested in next year’s competition and will be in fourth or fifth grade in the fall, the book list for 2014-2015 is now available at web site of the NC School Library Media Association, www.ncslma.org.

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