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Fifth grade readers go to battle



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March 28, 2012 - By Olivia Shumaker

Review Intern

What do bright wigs, librarians, and the Scripps Middle school gymnasium all have in common? They were all part of this year's Battle of the Books, put on the by the Orion Library and held at the Scripps gymnasium on Saturday, March 17.

The Battle of the Books is an annual event for fifth grade students in the Orion School District to encourage reading. Students form teams, usually around four or five members, to read all of the books on a list provided ahead of time to participating teams. This year, the list included titles such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson.

"We already achieved what we wanted to with you fifth graders—you're here, you read the books, you had fun," said event leader Debra Refior to the assembled fifth graders.

All told, 225 fifth graders competed on 51 teams during the battle.

Though the battle itself began around 1 p.m. on Saturday and students were preparing with reading, mock battles and practice questions and behind-the scenes preparation for the battle actually began several months ago in August. Then, the librarians in the Youth Department began reading books that could potentially make the battle list, often more than once, so they could begin writing questions and deciding what books would make the final list. There were fifteen books in all that students were expected to read.

At the battle itself, teams came in costume to suit their team names, which included the Novelists, the Zebra Gangsters and the Bombshells—one team brought inflatable suckers as props.

Each team sat on the floor on their own blankets and pillows, and was provided pencils and question sheets. 50 questions were asked by one of the youth department librarians over a microphone, with 30 seconds given to answer each question. Students received two points for answering the book title and author correctly, one point for answering the book title or author and zero points for not matching the author name to the proper book title or for failing to answer. Runners collected answers and delivered them to judges once the 30 seconds was up and teams were called on individually once answers were collected to state aloud the correct answer.

Results of the battle were not available as of this article's publication, but were announced during an award ceremony for the winners on Tuesday, March 20, at Lake Orion High School. All participants received a tote bag while the winners received gift certificates as well as a plaque with their names. Helen Frost, author of one of the books on the battle list, was also present to speak to the participants and autograph books that were being sold after the ceremony.

"I'm just happy that Orion Township—the parents, the teachers, and everyone who lives in this community—supports this annual event," said Refior. "I hope it can continue for many years in the future."

Fifth graders looking for books can check out the full list of battle books under the "List of Books" link at orionlibrary.org

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