Battle of the Books Has Surprise Ending

Sophomore Avir Waxman listens as English teacher Mr. Richard Ehrlich reads a question. Photo taken by Rishab Bhatnagar.

By Alexandra Chen
“Number one. Name the author’s older brother.” And with that, the battle began.
Ding. “Bob,” sophomore Avir Waxman answered confidently.
“Correct,” Mr. Ehrlich said.
Waxman was rewarded with thundering applause and several whoops of “Yeah!” from his teammates. He had just scored the first points of many to come, initiating the sophomores’ winning victory in the Battle of the Books.
This year is South’s third year participating in the Battle of the Books, a nationwide reading program run by a faith-based organization. The program’s goal is to raise interest in reading among students from grades 3-12 and, as Librarian Damon Reader said, “To just get kids to read.” According to freshman Jacob Rigos, the Battle of the Books is a “fun and exciting event.”
For this event, students from each grade are teamed up. Each grade can have as many students as possible take part in the competition. All participants are required to read the same group of books. With the newly acquired use of Edmodo this year, students selected the novels from a list of created by the library’s staff.
Mr. Reader said, “We have generally focused on award winners. We want to really get the latest and greatest young adult fiction out there that kids may not have heard about.”
On Thursday, March 16, after school, students competed against each other by answering questions about the books. Teams gained four points for each correct answer as well as a bonus point for naming the book’s author. The first place team in the competition wins 40 points for Rebel Olympics, second place gets 30 points, third place gets 20 points, and fourth place gets 10 points. This year, the sophomores placed first, followed by the freshmen in second, the juniors in third, and the seniors in fourth.
According to Mr. Reader, participation has been increasing “a little more every year.” This year, the library staff had incorporated more technology. Participants communicated with each other and with Mr. Reader and Ms. Judith McClellan through the social network Edmodo. In addition, the library possesses a total of twelve eReaders, which the library staff encourages the students to use. Mr. Reader said, “We haven’t had an eReader in since the day they came in. They’ve been out the entire time. That’s another nice addition this year.”
Underclassmen participation exceeded that of upperclassmen six-fold. The freshmen and the sophomore classes had fourteen and sixteen participants, respectively, while the junior class had two participants and the seniors had three. One possible reason is that many freshmen participated in the Battle of the Books in middle school Rigos, a former middle school participant and current high school participant, said, “Most people think books, and in their inner minds think ‘boring.’ The Battle of the Books changes that since it forces you to read the book carefully and think about what the inner meaning is. I think it is a great way to encourage people to read and a great way to learn the books.”