Battles at the Ames Public Library

Battles at the Ames Public Library

by Danielle Ziegler

Over the years, you may have noticed a yearly program at our library called the Battle of the Books.  This is one of my absolute favorite programs! In short, 5th and 6th graders compete in trivia battles about books they have read.  However, there is a lot more to these book battles.

Each year, library youth staff get together to decide what books should be featured on the upcoming year’s battles.  These are fun meetings with lots of discussions, as we all keep track throughout the year of books that we think would be great for battle.  If someone suggests a book, at least one other staff member reads it before it is added to our list. There is also a big list of books that we have used on previous battles to pull from.  We look for well-written books with in a variety of writing styles and genres that feature diverse protagonists. We also try to look for books that are just plain fun!              

After long conversations, we are finally ready for kids to read!  We always hope to get our lists out early in the summer so that kids can start reading.  When school starts, kids start to form teams of up to 4, either sponsored by teachers or parents, and they start practicing!

When springtime comes again, we are ready for Battle! This year’s 5th Grade Battle is on March 30th and 6th Grade Battle is on April 6th.  Kids from all over Story County will come to our library to compete. Teams have two qualifying rounds with ten questions per round, and then we have our final Battle—with ten of our hardest questions per team!  All the kids work hard and amaze us every single year.

As you can see, Battle is fun for us here at the library, and for the kids. But we don’t do it solely for fun, although that is definitely one of our goals. It’s great for kids to compete in avenues other than sports and feel comradery with their team!  We also hope to introduce kids to new books, with different genres, diverse characters, and introductions to new experiences.  Kids in Iowa can live many lives through reading. 

Battle of the Books is a fun and competitive experience that opens up new worlds of reading for those kids who participate!