Another brutal season of the Oregon Battle of the Books began this week as teams met for their first Team Tactic Session on Wednesday. An astounding 123 students in the fourth and fifth grade are participating this year, surpassing last year’s record and setting the stage for an exciting winter tournament.
The Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB), is a statewide voluntary reading program sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries. Starting this January, teams will 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. The final victor will represent BSE at the OBOB Regional Tournament on March 11, 2017.
15 fourth grade teams and 13 fifth grade teams have signed up to battle it out. Because of the nature of a double elimination bracket, the OBOB chairs will moderate at least 52 battles this winter. Normally, the number of fifth grade teams drops off significantly, but this year’s fifth grade is nearly on par with total fourth grade participants. “It’s exciting to see so many returning fifth graders, as well as so many students trying it for the first time,” states chair Barb Simon. “We love to see the kids take a chance on something new,” she adds. The OBOB committee is lucky to have four chairs this year, including Amy Buringrud, Frances Bland and Hannah Donohue, who work together to make this program possible.
Teams read and study the official OBOB list of 16 books, which this year included fan favorites Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and Portland classic, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, by Beverly Cleary. 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 host three Team Tactics Sessions, where teams organize themselves and create a reading and battle prep plan. “We strive for this program to be student-led, allowing the kids to dictate how much and in what capacity they want to prepare. It’s awesome to watch them collaborate and flex their leadership and teamwork skills. There’s always an element of luck involved, which is an important part of the learning process as they adapt to and accept obstacles,” comments chair Hannah Donohue.
Ultimately, organizers strive to create an atmosphere of fun and excitement around books. Team names are also notoriously creative. This year, team names include “5 Billion Dollar Bills,” “The Raspberry Tickles” and “The Pink Fluffy Pusheens.”
More info on this BSE program can be found here. OBOB is supported by BSCO with both volunteers and its own budget.