Rocky View County bookworms will put their novel knowledge to the test Feb. 26, during Rocky View Schools’ (RVS) third annual Battle of the Books.
Held at the RVS Education Centre in Airdrie, the competition will pit teams of six or seven students from grades 5 to 8 against each other in a test of book trivia knowledge and reading comprehension.
Erica Legh, one of the competition’s co-founders and member of the planning committee, said Battle of the Books began as an idea to “bring joy back to reading, engage students in team building and provide a sense of belonging outside school sports.”
“A community of practice was formed connecting those who loved books, who participated in battle of the books as children and who ran a similar event on a smaller scale to bring you what we have today,” she said in an email to AirdrieToday.com.
Started in 2018, the literary event is a team-oriented tournament where students answer questions about a variety of pre-selected books, which they will have read ahead of time. Like Jeopardy, a Question Master issues a query, and the first of three competing teams to hit its buzzer attempts to answer. If the team is incorrect, the other have the chance to steal.
“Questions range in difficulty and include recall and comprehension questions, from ‘the who’ to ‘the why,’” Legh said.
Teams qualify for the competition by winning their school’s version of Battle of the Books, which are held earlier in the school year.
While 70 students participated in the inaugural Battle of the Books, Legh said, the event has grown in the last two years, and 90 students from 13 schools will compete this year. The defending champion is the Manachaban Book Worms, which represents École Manachaban Middle School in Cochrane.
“Each year we’ve had more schools join and participate,” she said. “We are looking into new venues that can accommodate more participants next year, as we anticipate even more growth.”
Legh said some students participate due to their love of reading, while others do so simply because they enjoy the spirit of competition.
“They stay and come back year to year for the camaraderie they develop, the excitement of the event and discovering new books to love,” she said.
Along with the competitive aspect, Legh said, Battle of the Books provides the students an educational benefit. Participants connect with and study the books in great detail, going beyond the surface and strengthening their comprehension skills.
“Not only do students engage in diverse forms and genres of books, but they are introduced to new perspectives and themes they may not have picked up on their own,” she said.
RVS ensures multiple reading levels are represented, Legh said, and graphic novels, picture books and audiobook options are also included.
Some of the books chosen for this year's battle include Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg, Death by Dinosaur by Jacqueline Guest, Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz and The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.
Battle of the Books will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the RVS boardroom.