TLDSB Battle of the Books keeps kids reading
The Wild Western Wackadoodle Nerds junior Battle of the Books team from Riverside Public School celebrate a correct answer at the Trillium Lakelands District School Board finals last week. Tianna Fraser, Victoria Langfeld, James Boothby and Joey Walsh (from left) score an 8 to 6 win over Scott Young in this round, but the Omemee school came back to end the day in second place behind Monck Public School.
Photo by Kim Good
April 11, 2012
MUSKOKA — The joy of reading is what piques their interest, but it’s the thrill of the battle that keeps them coming back.
Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s annual Battle of the Books intermediate and junior competitions took place last week, bringing the top two teams from each end of the board to the Rene M Caisse Theatre in Bracebridge for the final showdown.
This is the eighth year elementary students have participated in the quiz show-style competition to determine the top schools in reading comprehension. Teams of four read each of the 10 chosen books for their division, some multiple times, in order to first succeed within their schools as the team who can answer the most questions on the books.
Once they are chosen to represent their school, the team must battle through quote identification to become one of the top two teams in their region, either Muskoka or Kawartha, before competing within the final four, again with quotes, for the board title.
In the junior division, grades 4, 5 and 6, Muskoka teams from Riverside Public School in Huntsville and Monck Public School in Bracebridge battled it out with Kawartha-area schools, Mariposa Elementary School in Oakwood and Scott Young Public School in Omemee.
At the end of the semifinal round, Monck was in the lead with Riverside in second. Monck eventually turned its lead into a first-place finish in the finals; however, after a strong semifinal showing, Riverside was overcome by Scott Young, who finished in second.
The Riverside team was made up of James Boothby, Joey Walsh, Victoria Langfeld and Tianna Fraser, all in Grade 5. This was their second year as a team and they saw a big improvement over last year.
“Last year we only got like four or five points,” said Langfeld, compared to a 20-point score this year heading into the finals. Though they did not end up winning, Langfeld said their team, known this year as the Wild Western Wackadoodle Nerds, will be back again next year. “We each decided we’re going to stick together again next year and we decided on our team name already — the Mad Cow Diseases.”
The enthusiasm for the competition goes far beyond the chance to win a $15 Chapters gift card and a plaque, or the team name on the Battle of the Books trophy. For the kids, it’s a day off school, but more importantly, they’re having fun.
“It’s great to win, but it’s mostly about having fun,” said Ben King, a member of the winning Monck junior team, along with teammates Leighton Parrett, Laken Hobson and Katona Files.
While they’ve all participated in the Battle of the Books at the school level before, this is their first year together as a team — the Super Intergalactic Pink Gummi Bears. “We just come up with the longest name we can think of and the most random,” explained King.
While all teams realize the more times they’ve read a book, the better their chances at answering correctly, each team also has a definite strategy to make it to the finals.
“Our strategy is we all listen to a few words,” said Parrett.
“Like two to six words, then buzz in as soon as you can,” finished King.
“You have to be fast,” said Parrett. “That’s the big thing about this.”
In the intermediate division, grades 7 and 8, Spruce Glen Public School and Riverside Public School, both in Huntsville, battled it out against Kawartha’s Bobcaygeon Public School and Langton Public School in Fenelon Falls. However, after highly competitive battles, Muskoka was shut out of the win this year, with first going to Bobcaygeon and second place to Langton.
Out of 41 elementary schools in the board, 33 participated this year, the most ever, said co-organizer and Monck teacher librarian Mary Ellen Boyd. The success of the elementary school Battle of the Books has spawned a secondary school version and a French language version in recent years.
It’s all good as far as Boyd is concerned.
“For me, it’s the reading aspect and getting a book in the kids’ hands, getting them using their imagination and getting lost in another world,” she said. “I don’t think some of the kids see that much anymore.”
With computer games and electronics taking over more and more of children’s free time, Boyd said reading for enjoyment is becoming a thing of the past.
“Kids that might have kept going and found that one book that would change their life so that they would become a reader, they’re not always giving it that chance any more,” she said.
Hopefully, she added, the Battle of the Books will change that for some.
“I just look at our numbers within our school,” said Boyd. “We’re a big school, but we seem to keep getting more and more kids each year.”
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