Hundreds of parents and students packed Lynndale Elementary gymnasium on Friday morning to watch 36 student teams pit their reading and retention skills against each other for the honor of bringing home the 2017 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 grades 4-6 students 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.
But unfortunately, as pointed out by event organizer and former school librarian Marianne Costello, 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 with help from parent organizations,” she said. “This means schools with robust parent organizations get to participate, while those without these frequently cannot.” She went on to stress that any solution to the state schools funding crisis needs to address school libraries and the vital role they play in educating young people.
“Reading is such a vital life skill,” Costello said. “With all the other distractions in young peoples’ lives these days, it’s more critical than ever that we keep reading in the mix as part of our mission to nurture well-rounded citizens of the future. And for many, this competition provides the jump-start. I know — my own son got turned on to reading through the Battle of the Books.”
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 Lynnwood’s Cedar Valley School by a nose, as the Super Readers team of Sergey, Youstina, Veronika and Kien racked up 38 points out of a possible 40, edging out the competition for top honors.
“Wow,” exclaimed a beaming Veronika. “This is the greatest!”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel