BSCO Bankrolls Book Clubs

The BSCO machine continues to roll into 2016, providing high-quality student enrichment opportunities.  Let’s highlight two BSCO-funded literacy programs that are kick-starting our upper grades this January.

Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB)

This week marked the beginning of battle season for BSE’s OBOB teams.  The Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB), is a statewide voluntary reading program sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries.  Teams compete in weekly battles, answering questions regarding the content of the books, as they fight their way through a double elimination bracket.  The winning fourth grade team will take on the winning fifth grade team in the BSE Grand Championship, scheduled for February 24th.  The final victor will represent BSE at the OBOB Regional Tournament in March.

This year, 17 fourth grade teams and nine fifth grade teams signed up to participate, totalling over 115 students, an increase from last year.  Because of the nature of a double elimination bracket, fourth grade teams will battle every day from now through February.

Teams read and study the official OBOB list of 16 books, which this year included kid favorites The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and Newbery winner, Flora and Ulysses, by Kate Dicamillo.  The BSE library is fully stocked with OBOB books, purchased with funds earned from last year’s Book Fair.  

The program includes more than just reading.  Collaboration and teamwork are key, as students learn to work together and deal with healthy competition.  The OBOB chairs hosted three Team Tactics Sessions, where teams organized themselves and created a reading battle plan.  Each participant is given an OBOB journal, where they can take notes on plots, characters and settings.  Students were encouraged to write their own OBOB questions in order to enter the raffle, where current OBOB books were awarded.

“I like that, win or lose, the battles are really fun.  Meeting new people we don’t really know and battling against friends makes it enjoyable,” comments fourth grader, Nina Dornblaser.  Naming the team also adds to the fun.  This year’s team names include “Lunar Eclipse,” “The Book Burrito Bananas” and “The Fire-Breathing Rubber Duckies.” 

Of course, as in any trivia competition, there’s an element of luck involved.  “Some of these questions are just plain hard.  Even the best-prepared teams may encounter questions that they won’t know.  That’s part of the learning curve-- it helps them adapt, accept what they can’t control,  and work together.  Watching them cheer each other on and learn to trust and depend on each other is a big part of what makes OBOB special,” states OBOB chair, Stefanie Ebenal, who along with Barb Simon and Hannah Donohue, have taken on this committee.  

Third grade students will have the opportunity in participating in a smaller BOB tournament in May, with a shorter reading list.  More info on this BSE program can be found here.

OBOB is supported by BSCO with both volunteers and its own budget.

Newbery Book Clubs

Each year, fifth graders are able to explore high-quality and current literature through the fifth grade team’s Newbery Book Club program.  The fifth grade teams keeps its eyes and ears out all year in order to find the best-fit, high-quality selections of the year.  

“Throughout 2015 we keep our ears open for the 'buzz' about great new books," explains fifth grade teacher, Christopher Basham. "There are lots of online blogs that are dedicated to discussing brand new books for children. In addition, we also talk with our friends at Green Bean Books in NE Portland to get their recommendations. These are books published in 2015 that have received high praise and could potentially win the 2016 Newbery Award in January. The goal is to inspire students to read as many new, good books as possible.”

Titles chosen this year included Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, and Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar.  Starting last November, students were able to check out a title and discuss and recommend to other members of their group. Teachers created a book bracket with the 15 titles.  This January, students began voting for their favorites in each round, knocking-off titles until one book remained.  

“The winner of our bracket will be our prediction for the Newbery Award in 2016. We will tune into the actual awards ceremony to see if we were correct, but even if we weren't, we still have a pile of great books to read and talk about,” states Basham.

Sadly, this year’s BSE fifth grade prediction, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, wasn’t presented the Newbery Medal last Monday.  However, two of the grade’s top four picks, The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan were given a Newbery Honor Award.

The Newbery Book Clubs are funded through the Mature Grants line item in the BSCO budget.