On April 6, approximately 150 Humble ISD middle school students competed in the nationally recognized, incentivized Battle of the Books competition, with 57 advancing to the finals.

Local librarians worked hard to bring this program to the district. The event encourages students in grades 3-12 to read books and have fun while competing with peers.

Students from Atascocita, Creekwood, Humble and Riverwood middle schools created teams to compete together.

“Students read books and they each came together, in groups, to demonstrate their abilities and test their knowledge of the books they read,” said Lesley Nickelson, Riverwood Middle School librarian.

Preparation for the competition began during the summer of 2018 when librarians Alisa Cancino (Creekwood Middle School), Brooke King (Atascocita Middle School) and Nickelson sought to create an event their students would enjoy. The librarians worked in conjunction with the teen librarians from the Atascocita and Kingwood branches of the Harris County Public Library.

Darla Pruitt and Lauren Richards helped the planning committee by creating the book list, selecting competition questions and assisting in judging the competition teams. Books included “Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora” (realistic fiction) by Pablo Cartaya, “Refugee” (historical fiction) by Alan Gratz, and “Spirit Hunters” (horror) by Ellen Oh, just to name a few.

The students that participated began preparing for the final competition back in October. The teams were required to read 15 books. Once teams received the book list, they could divide the books among their teammates and conquer the reading from cover to cover. Students read their books and met to discuss the books before school, during lunch and even after school on some days.

During the competition, teams participated in a “Family Feud”-like challenge, where teams could earn points by answering questions about the books they read. The students competed in several rounds against different teams. The two teams with the highest points competed in the final Book Battle. In addition to encouraging literacy, the competition also gave students a chance to experience the spirit of competition, teamwork and to make new friends.

“It has been exciting to see our middle school students so thrilled about reading and books,” King said. “They are excited to compete against other schools. I hope this spirit of friendly competition and love of reading spreads to more students and additional campuses next year.”

The winning team of the final round, the Defeater Readers from Riverwood Middle School, took home a trophy that will stay at their campus until the 2020 Battle of the Books. The members took home medals and a Barnes and Noble gift card. Every participant received a bag with a book and items from Children’s Plus Books and Harris County Public Library.

“[In retrospect] I hope this contest shows that reading is still alive in middle school,” Nickelson said.

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