Desert Sage students tackle Battle of the Books feat

Battle of the Books at Desert Sage Elementary School continues to be a popular competition, pitting groups of students against each other to show who can read – as well as understand and remember – a collection of books.

Each year, students in third, fourth and fifth grades participate in Battle of the Books.

They are placed in groups of mixed ability levels (per grade), and given a reading list.

Among the group, all the books should be read, though each student does not have to read each book.


Then, the program culminates in competition so that students can show off everything they’ve learned and compete to become champions of Battle of the Books.

“I believe with all my heart that this program not only gets third through fifth graders into reading some really great books, but it also helps them with summarizing those books, keeping a reading log and taking Reading Counts tests,” said school library technician Dolores Gersick.

There are 15 books on the third grade list, and 30 books each on the fourth and fifth grade lists.

They do not change and include Newberry Honor winners and age-appropriate favorites including Shiloh and Black Stallion.

During the Battle of the Books competition, the students participate in three different challenges –Relay, Family Feud and Whiz Kid.

In Relay, teams hear questions about books and take turns running across the room to answer to a judge.

Bonus points are given if a competitor knows the author of the book. In the Whiz Kid portion, students answered questions in order, one by one, about the books.

The more books read by each individual student, the better their chances of answering the question, since it can be about any on the list.

After the first three challenges – which this year were held on separate days per grade – the final Super Challenge was held as a combined whole-school assembly. For the Super Challenge, the top three teams per grade compete.

“The whole school came to watch and there was so much excitement, we actually had to quiet the audience,” Gersick said.

“And the fifth grade competition took it to a whole new level.

“It was very intense. They created their own T-shirts and everything.”

Gersick said the book lists are available before summer break, so that students entering third, fourth and fifth grade can start prepping by doing some summer reading.

“And I had kids ask me this year, after reading a book, if we had other books by the same author.

“So that makes me really happy,” she said.

She noted that some other schools have expressed interest in starting a Battle of the Books competition for themselves.

Gersick said her ultimate goal would be to see it become a District 70-wide competition someday.

“Kids are really motivated,” she said.

“Some teams found a way to work with other team members to get up to speed on the books (they didn’t read) by playing a game or quizzing each other. “I think this is great!”

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