Hundreds of parents, teachers and students packed Seaview Elementary gymnasium on Friday morning to watch 39 student teams pit their reading and retention skills against each other for the honor of bringing home the 2018 Battle of Books trophy.
Every year the Edmonds School District’s elementary school librarians identify a list of 20 books for the competition. The district’s nearly 5,000 students in grades 4-6 are then introduced to the titles and encouraged to read them. In April, students form four-person teams to compete in their school’s Battle of the Books. The top two teams from each school then proceed to the district Battle of the Books to compete for the honor of bringing the trophy home to their school.
Unfortunately, as pointed out by event organizer and Mountlake Terrace Elementary school librarian David Winkeljohn, this event – and school libraries in general – hang by a shoestring.
“It’s important to note that this event is put on completely by local school librarians and funded by the librarians themselves with help from parent organizations,” he said. “Teachers are often faced with the dilemma that if they want a program, they’ll have to pay for it themselves. In our case, I bought the team t-shirts out of my own pocket. Look around the room and you’ll see many teams without event shirts.”
But for the students, this year’s Battle of the Books was all about fast recall and knowledge. The competition was fierce and furious, with four 10-question rounds designed to test knowledge of plot lines, characters and key facts about each story. A team of librarians marked the answer sheets and compiled the score, projecting results on a screen for all to see.
And in the end it was Brier Elementary by a nose, as the Book Champions team of Hai Ho, Nataliya Soumphonphakdy, Tramanh Ho and Rowan Rhoads racked up 38 points out of a possible 40, edging out the competition for top honors.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel