By Jason Wesseldyk
The 2023 Otsego-Plainwell Battle of the Books is … well … in the books.
The event—a quiz-bowl-style competition that is comprised of three rounds of seven questions for each battle—featured 17 teams from elementary schools throughout Otsego Public Schools and Plainwell Community Schools.
And after three preliminary rounds (two with six teams and one with five) and a Grand Battle that pitted he top two finishers from the earlier battles against each other, team Money Makers from Plainwell’s Cooper Elementary emerged as the winner. The Money Makers finished with 78 points.
The Royal Readers from Otsego’s Dix Street Elementary and the Gilkey Gecko Girls from Plainwell’s Gilkey Elementary shared runner-up honors with 70 points each.
Jen Fazio is one of the event’s organizers.
“This year’s Battle of the Books was again a wonderful time had by all,” Fazio said. “Excitement over the books and being on a team was contagious—even for those in the audience.”
In preparation for the competition, participants read a set of books that have been chosen by the Battle of the Books leadership team. There are three potential types of questions that can be asked during the event: “In the book, …?”; “From which book, …?”; and “The following quotation comes from which book, …?”
“It really is all about reading books and talking about the characters, events, feelings and connections we get from the stories,” Fazio said. “Getting deeper into the books, too, with quotations and character’s voice is important.
“We choose titles that are all quality books in their own right, but that also fit a variety of genres and reading levels.”
This year’s titles were all Newbery Award or Honor Books in honor of the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of Newbery last fall.
Those titles included: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman; Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat; Hello Universe by Erin Estrada Kelly: Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman; The Tales of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo; and Because of Winn-Dixie by DiCamillo.
Fazio said Battle of the Books helps show students how much fun reading can be.
“Reading should be enjoyable, and talking about characters, books and connections should be exciting,” she said. “Battle of the Books is an extracurricular activity that might help kids see reading as fun instead of just a subject at school.
“The team quiz-bowl-type format also helps build confidence and camaraderie and teamwork. Maybe it will even be the start of them enjoying a book club.”
As always, the Battle of the Books organizational team is on the lookout for volunteers for future competitions.
“This is a super fun event for students and coaches alike,” Fazio said. “We always need more adult or high-school-age volunteers to coach. With more coaches, more kids can participate.”