Student prepare for battle…with books

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Students across Oregon are reading and analyzing a particular set of novels, all with the hopes of their team winning the annual Oregon Battle of the Books, which librarian Peggy Christensen recently introduced to MHS.

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By Shaylen Crook & Abby Clough | Collaborative reporters

 

Fifteen seconds is all they get to answer the question.

It is a game-show style battle to see which team knows the books better.

 Four team members, 12-16 books and 20 questions.

This is Oregon Battle of the Books.

The teams take turns back and forth answering two types of questions. “In which book…” questions prompt students to name the book being described, while content questions ask about specific events in the books. If a team answers a question correctly they earn five points, but if they fail the other team is given a chance to answer and score five points.

The idea of Battle of the Books intrigued MHS Librarian Peggy Christensen. She attended an Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) session during an Oregon Association of School Libraries conference. There she learned the basics of OBOB and decided to start the program at Marshfield.

“It’s new to me this year,” Christensen said. “I thought I’d like to give it a try.”

Christensen went online, gathered as much information as she could about OBOB and began to purchase books from the required reading lists.

“All the kids in the ninth to twelfth [grade] division around the state who are participating are reading the same twelve titles, and there are fourteen titles in the sixth to eighth [grade] division,” Christensen said.

The OBOB competitors are divided into three divisions: third to fifth grade, sixth to eighth grade and ninth to twelfth grade. Each division has a required reading list with books of different genres, including science fiction, fantasy, romance and even nonfiction and biographies.  

Kadie Backlund is a sophomore this year and is looking forward to reading the assigned books.

“One of my favorite authors is on there [the reading list], Tamora Pierce, so that was really nice,” Backlund said.

Backlund is enthusiastic about Battle of the Books. She said she loves books and enjoys hanging around other “book nerds.” Backlund is especially eager to read and answer questions about J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit.”

“I’m really excited about competing with ‘The Hobbit,’” Backlund said.

Among the 14 books in the sixth to eighth division is “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Seedfolks” and “Artemis Fowl.” The ninth to twelfth division reads 12 books including titles such as “The Hobbit,” “The Complete Persepolis” and “Secret Life of Bees.”

Considering MHS has students eligible for the sixth to eighth division and the ninth to twelfth division, Christensen decided to offer both divisions for both student age groups.

“Since I have both classes here I decided I’ll try to do both divisions,” Christensen said.

Christensen is not going to have sixth and seventh graders participate but she did want to offer the opportunity to the resident eighth graders. Christensen made brochures about Battle of the Books and created a Power Point presentation. She showed it to the eighth, ninth and tenth grade English classes so students could learn about OBOB and put teams together.

Raleen McDaniel is in eighth grade and has high hopes for OBOB this year.

“I love to read, and when they told me about it I automatically became interested in it,” McDaniel said.

The turnout for OBOB was far greater than Christensen had anticipated.

“Right now I have eight teams, which is a huge turnout, a lot bigger than I ever expected,” Christensen said.

Christensen hopes to start practice battles between the Marshfield teams at the end of January. She is also planning a mock battle between Marshfield and North Bend High School, where Battle of the Books is being implemented for the first time this year. The mock battle for ninth to twelfth grades is scheduled for Feb. 4, and the eighth graders will battle on Feb. 6, at the Coos Bay Public Library.

“It’s just a practice for both campuses,” Christensen said.

There will be practice battles before an elimination round, which will then lead to regionals. Only one team from each school and division will attend regionals to represent Marshfield. Regionals will be held on Feb. 23 at Roseburg High School.

“You can have battles within your district or within your county, but what really counts is regionals,” Christensen said.

When competing, teams have to win their regional division to be able to participate in the state competition, which is held on April 13, at the Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon.

McDaniel is excited to battle.

“The whole reading thing sounds fun,” McDaniel said. “It’s like Jeopardy.”