Battle of the Books is a statewide reading motivation and comprehension program sponsored by the Alaska Association of School Librarians. Lists of books are chosen and questions are written for all grade levels by librarians. Students read and practice at the local level, district battles are held and winning teams advance to state competition at grades 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12.
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The Johnson Youth Center Battle of the Books team battled the Juneau-Douglas High School team on Jan. 31 and won the grades 9-12 district battle. The Johnson Youth Center team will represent the Juneau School District today at the grades 9-12 state battles via audio conference. There are approximately 33 teams in the state battles. The two JYC team members are from Sitka and Petersburg.
This year, all high school team members statewide read from a list of 12 books, including "Beekeeper's Apprentice" by Laurie R. King, "Longitude" by Dava Sobel, "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult, "Norman Tuttle on the Last Frontier" by Tom Bodett, "Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway, "On Basilisk Station" by David Weber, "Pawn of Prophecy" by David Eddings, "Rules of the Road" by Joan Bauer, "Sabriel by Garth Nix, Slam!" by Walter Dean Myers, "When the Emperor was Divine" by Julie Otsuka and "Witch Child" by Celia Rees.
Teams conducted mock battles using practice questions created by Alaska librarians. All questions begin with "In which book ... ." A sample question would be, "In which book is it thought that a problem needs an astronomical answer not a mechanical one?" The team decides their answer and responds with the title and author of the battle book they think the question is taken from. One battle consists of 16 questions with each question being worth eight points, five points for the correct title and three points for the correct author.
The students at JYC began reading this fall, and mock battles were conducted several times each week. The final two team members were chosen in December. The team members will continue to reread and practice until the state battles are held.
Battle of the Books has been an invaluable activity for the JYC students. The students have learned to budget their time in order to read the books, because their day is very structured, and they have many other responsibilities. In addition to reading some great books, these dedicated students also learned to assimilate what they read and learned the value of teamwork.
Georgia Hartner is a librarian for the Johnson Youth Center.