‘Battle of the Books’ in Waunakee Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 31, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

Battle of the Books
The Battle of the Books at St. John the Baptist School in Waunakee was celebrated with contests, prizes, and a visit from the Culver's mascot, "Scoopy," pictured at left, signing students’ shirts. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

WAUNAKEE -- When a school gym is home to a raucous environment, high energy from students and parents, and spirited competition, one would naturally assume a sporting event is taking place.

During a recent morning at St. John the Baptist School in Waunakee, all of those efforts were not about sports -- they were about books.

As a culmination of a year's worth of reading, more than 70 students in grades three to six took part in the Battle of the Books, based on a national event where students from different schools read books and compete against each other in knowledge contests based on those books.

At St. John, students from those four grades were divided into eight teams, each with a cross section of students from differing grades and reading achievements.

Reading books

At the start of the school year, school Librarian Lynn Mais selected 30 books for the students to read.

Some of the books on the list were Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Old Yeller, The War with Grandpa, A Wrinkle in Time, and Wonder.

Mais said the books she chose "focus on diversity, dignity of life, and historical values" from a variety of genres.

She had about 10 copies of each book available in the school library.

Audio books were also available for students.

Mais added that some parents would read the books to their children along with other family members reading the books as well.

Some students formed small "book clubs" reading the same book at the same time.

Teachers would also read some of the books out loud during class time.

Most of the students read about 10 of the 30 books. Some read all 30 -- most of those students are in the sixth grade.

"There are kids who are hesitant readers," said Mais.

"I can find something for each of those kids and that has really worked."

Mais added that it's important for kids to read as they battle with technological distractions.

"They just need that internal quiet time," said Mais.

In total, the students read more than 800 books.

Battle day

On April 25, eight teams of students assembled in the school gym for the Battle of the Books.

They each had their own color, some red, some purple, and some yellow, among the rainbow of choices.

Each team had a mascot, mostly stuffed animals, including one very large gorilla that had its own folding chair.

They also all had a chant, which they would all present to the school and parents in attendance as the morning went on.

The initial competitions were trivia contests, where the teams had to work together to come up with the answers to questions about the books.

Each team had at least one student who read all the books.

This gave some students who struggle with reading a chance to compete and "hopefully inspiring them, wanting to read more," said Mais.

Other competitions included the students relay racing while cup stacking and answering questions about the books.

The scores from all the competitions were added up to determine a winner.

Students who read the most books were also honored.

Each student also got a chance to grab prizes from prize tables, consisting of books and other items, which were all donated.

The school hosts the battle every three or four years, so every student gets one chance to participate. This was the school's third battle over the last decade.

Local businesses donated snacks and prizes including Piggly Wiggly, Kwik Trip, Half Price Books, and Pepsi.

Culver's also donated custard, along with a special visit from their mascot "Scoopy."


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