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Friday, January 22, 2010

On Reading and the Battle of the Books

Jean Sexton reports:

This week, I had the privilege of serving as the moderator for the Elementary Battle of the Books, a county-wide competition for children in the third and fourth grades in the public schools of Robeson County. This activity always revitalizes me and gives me hope for the future. Thursday was the final competition between the top six of nineteen schools.

The Battle of the Books is a "Quiz Bowl" type of competition. The students have a list of books to read and they are asked questions pertaining to those books. This year, the fifteen books ran the gamut from historical fiction to science fiction with mysteries, sports stories, and school stories all in that mix. The teams can only have twelve members, with only six allowed on stage. The questions can be complicated: "In which book did lunch include chili dogs, sour cream and onion chips, and Klondike bars?" (Eggs by Jerry Spinelli) and the students only have twenty seconds to answer the question. If one team misses it, the other only has ten seconds to come up with the right answer.

The students must be disciplined. Not only do they have a lot of information to retain, they have to not blurt out the answer or confer before the question is completed (unlike Jeopardy or some of the game shows) and they have to stay focused. The primary reward is a plaque for the school. The top schools' students got medals and the top three got trophies.

What struck me most was the parents' support for the winning teams. Some teams in the earlier rounds had no parents show up. The winning teams did. Studies show that support for reading starts with the families. It doesn't just mean reading to your child; it means being a role model and letting your children see you reading. Seeing a father read has a big impact on children.

As a company, ADB, Inc. is in favor of reading -- and not just our books. A better-educated citizenry is good for our country. So read to your children, let them see you reading (yes, you can be seen reading our products!), and encourage your local school system to start similar competitions if they are not already running something to promote reading. Help your child become a winner in the area of reading!