Pride and Prejudice, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, Bridge to Terabithia, and Call of the Wild are just a few of the novels on the Standard 30 of America’s Battle of the Books list for grades 6 through 8 for the 2016-2017 competition year. A comprehensive list in all of the different categories and grade levels can be found on their website here.
When I was little, I remember initially not being a big fan of reading. Well that is somewhat true. Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force. The reverse is also applicable, and particularly so for me as a child. I was an avid reader when I actually sat down and started reading, it was just the initial momentum to get there that was rather difficult.
As I grew older, I found it easier to motivate myself to read and would even begin doing so without an “outside force” acting upon me. When I entered middle school, my mother introduced me to Battle of the Books. It is an incentive reading program that is available for grades 3 through 12. It started as an after school club where everyone would be introduced to the book list, have discussions, and prep for the upcoming competition. Although not everyone would be able to compete in the competition, everyone was welcome to the club meetings and join in on the discussion. Regardless, this was often necessary since no one knew who would be competing until slightly before the competition date. Students were required to memorize all titles and authors of the novels on the list as well as obtain comprehensive knowledge of the book’s contents.
I loved the motives and benefits brought out from this program. It let those students with a passion for reading expand on their hobby and turn it into something much more. It fostered a new community centered around a student’s love for reading and promoted collaboration amongst participants. It was very different than a book discussion when we were in class. Having the book discussions at the Battle of the Books meetings were because everyone wanted to be there and most of the time had greater participation rates than the class discussions we would have.
Not only did it expand on classroom discussion, it introduced many new topics of conversation. While every grade level generally has the same standards for which books are required to be taught in the schools. Battle of the Books introduced students to the more popular aforementioned books as well as less slightly known books. Some of these lesser known books that I was only introduced to because of Battle of the Books became some of my favorite books of all time.
Overall, I really enjoyed this program that I participated in throughout middle school and highly encourage other students to take part if their schools off it, and if not then start their own club! It truly was an enlightening experience.