Morgan Nina: Can you describe what the battle of the books program is?
Nate Braunhut: Battle of the books is a reading competition in which students are pre-assigned exceptionally high quality novels. After being given time to read the novels teams square off against one another in a battle with their literary wits.
MN: What do you feel makes this a good competition for 5th graders?
NB: Children by their very nature are competitive creatures. When given the opportunity to one up their peers they will take it every time. In addition, BOTB uses exceptional titles to which the student might have never been exposed.
MN: What has been the student response to this program?
NB: By and large students have been surprised that the selected titles were as exciting and engaging as they are. Students have also felt a great sense of pride being able to stand in front of 100+ fellow 5th graders and demonstrate their comprehension skills in a high pressure situation.
MN: Which BOTB title have been the most popular among the 5th graders?
NB: I haven’t heard anything negative about any of the titles but I have received more positive feedback on Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. When the students realize this book is part of a series they get very excited about the prospect of being able to continue the story line. Many students have independently sought out and read the other books in the series in addition to their BOTB reading responsibilities.
MN: What is the cost of the program to the school?
NB: To participate in the BOTB program the district has paid a $50 entry fee. Harmon’s share of that cost was $10 which was graciously absorbed by our generous PTSO. There is no cost to the individual student.
MN: How did the district get involved in the BOTB program?
NB: Marcus Berkshire, principal of the JO Combs Traditional Academy, brought BOTB to the Combs District. Without his heavy involvement and guidance, Harmon’s participation in the program might not have happened. In addition to his responsibilities as District Coordinator, Mr. Berkshire has facilitated all of the battles as well as a mock battle that Harmon 5th graders made to the JO Combs Governing Board.