News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 17, 2014

A real page turner

Elementary students battle it out in reading contest

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Victory was sweet for the Franklin Elementary teammates, who won their first ever Battle of the Books competition Thursday at Meadows Elementary.

They won in the general education division, competing with teams from 17 other Vigo County School Corp. elementary schools. Ouabache Elementary won in the gifted/talented division, which featured teams from four schools.

During the event, teams consisting of fourth- and fifth-graders must correctly answer questions related to books they’ve read from the Young Hoosier Book Award list.

“It’s exciting and awesome since it’s our first time to win,” said Brooke Griffith, a Franklin team member, after the Battle had concluded and the team happily held up a large trophy.

Griffith’s proud parents, Kris Layman and Sid Griffith, sat in the bleachers of the crowded Meadows gym, quietly cheering on their daughter and the Franklin team.

“We’re just tickled to death,” Layman said. “The whole team has worked very hard.”

Her daughter loves to read. “We’ve worked really hard studying with her,” Layman said. For the Battle, “All we told her was do the best you can.”

Franklin principal Tina Horrall said, “It’s exciting. All their hard work has come together and paid off.”

In addition to five team members and two alternates, other students at the school practiced with them and improved their reading skills, Horrall said.

The goal of the program is to encourage students to read.

During competition, the moderator asks questions related to the 20 books on the list, and students must provide the correct title and also can earn extra points by naming the author. Two teams of five students — a “green” and a “red” team —  sit on each side of the moderator on stage and battle it out to advance, using a buzzer system to answer. Each round lasts 10 minutes.

The winning GT and general education teams each take home a traveling trophy. Also, there are gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third.

Students prepare by reading some or all of 20 books from the Young Hoosier Book Award list. The program encourages students to read from different genres, such as fiction, nonfiction and biography. All schools are given collections of the books.

Another participant, Kylie Gilliland, a fourth-grader at Farrington Grove Elementary, read about 12 of the 20 books. Battle of the Books “is fun and it’s complicated,” she said. “You are trying to figure out the answer before the other team does.”

The Farrington Grove coach, Bonnie Finley, said students are encouraged to read as many books as they can. The event draws a lot of enthusiasm.

“I think a lot of our kids who maybe aren’t good at sports or something like that can really find their niche this way,” Finley said. “It’s a great program.”

Her team practices about two months for 10 to 15 minutes each day at recess.

Kathy Deal, who coordinates the event for the school district, said Battle of the Books “gets kids excited about reading and reading with a purpose.”

A major goal of the school district is to strengthen reading comprehension, “and this project is a part of that goal,” Deal said. Regardless of who makes the teams, all students who read the books and practice for the Battle “are winners,” she said.

Event sponsors include the Vigo County Education Foundation, Partners Advancing Literacy Skills, the Vigo County Public Library and the Vigo County Retired Teachers Association.

The middle school Battle of the Books will be at 9 a.m. April 24 in the Ivy Tech Community College auditorium.



Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.