Every summer, our local library hosts a Battle of the Books for the teens from all the branches to come together and compete over books they read. IT IS AWESOME. Unfortunately, my daughter and I won’t be able to attend this year, so I decided to write this ode to the Battle of the Books instead.
Okay, I just realized that’s misleading because it sounds like I’m going to write a poem about the event, and I’m not. But I am going to tell you why it rocks so hard.
1. It’s a battle that’s all about BOOKS.
So basically it’s book nerdvana. There’s your auto-win right there.
2. The teens pick which three books they’re going to read.
They vote! It’s very democratic.
3. They read all the books.
This is probably the best part.
4. They get together to practice, which means nerding out about the books by coming up with questions to submit for the battle.
That’s right. The questions are (almost) all written by the teens participating. They go into a bank, and the librarians pick which ones they’ll use for the battle.
The questions are submitted anonymously (so they don’t know which branch picked which questions).
5. THEY BATTLE.
So, this is how it works, and I am assuming this is also how a math competition works (correct me if I’m wrong; my only experience with math competitions is watching Mean Girls).
So, the teens are all in teams according to their library branch. Sometimes if a branch is small, it will be absorbed into another branch’s team. Or two small teams may combine to make one larger team. Teams are important. No teen is an island. (Don’t worry: both branches get the glory if the combined team wins). THEN:
- A question is read
- The teams confer
- They write down their answers on a white board
- They give their answers
- Points are awarded for the right answers
It is very suspenseful! Even if you haven’t read the books! The first year we went, my dad was super into it and keeping track of the scores (they are not displayed), and it was all very “GO TEAM WIN BEAT THAT OTHER TEAM DESTROY THEM.”
Except it’s in the library so it’s all silent/under our breaths/whispered.
But, yes, lots of suspense, and if you have read the books, lots of knowing the answers and saying them to yourself but not out loud because you don’t want to cheat. I imagine this is what it’s like to be in the audience at Jeopardy! Or a spelling bee.
6. Points are tabulated.
This part is very important because there is food while we wait. The food is provided by very generous sponsors like local restaurants and grocery stores. (The teens all sign a thank-you note/letter to give to the establishment after the event. So this event also teaches manners and etiquette. The library: it does everything.)
And there are two rounds, so there are half-time snacks and then post-game snacks.
During the final tally, a really cool thing happens:
7. An author visit!
So, last year, the library started this thing where they invite the author of one of the books (the one that has the most votes, I think).
Marissa Meyer (of Lunar Chronicles fame) came last year.
She gave a talk, answered questions, and signed/gave out swag. It was pretty great. One of her promo items was a postcard with a New Beijing landscape, and she wrote a message on it for my best friend’s daughter (who lives in another state), and I was able to mail my friend’s daughter a postcard from Marissa Meyer. So that was exciting.
This year, the author is Rick Yancey (of The 5th Wave fame).
We are going to miss seeing him. So that’s less exciting for us. But I’m sure all the kids (and adults) who will be there will find it exciting.
The author ALSO sits on the judging panel for questions. Did I not mention that? So the teens get an opportunity to talk to him/her during the breaks. It’s all very chill.
(Okay, so maybe the author visit is the best part.)
8. The winner is announced!
There is a plaque. (I feel like there may be a trophy, but I can’t remember.) There are pictures. There is cake.
The plaque goes to the winning branch, and the winning branch’s name is inscribed on the plaque where it hangs in the teen section of the library for all to admire.
And then the battle is over, and we all wait for next summer for it to begin again.
I seriously look forward to it every year. It’s probably my favorite library program/event.