Friday, November 23, 2018

Oregon Battle of the Books

After many years of being vaguely aware of OBOB (Oh, Bob), as our state's battle of the books event is called, I decided to actually get my school involved this year. I called an organizational meeting, and we have 3-4 teams. The kids get into groups of 3-5 and between the entire group read 16 books by February. Then in February there's a quiz-show type competition. These "battles" are sponsored by the state library associations, and one reason I decided to go for it this year is that the town I teach in has a new youth services librarian, and he offered to come help run the competitions.

The selection committee tries to choose books from a variety of genres. They're all backlist books, so they are easier to get ahold of, and local libraries stock up with multiple copies of each. There is a conscious effort to include local authors, although the majority of the books are not Oregon books.

I've started trying to read all the books myself, and have run into a few issues, namely:

  • because we're competing in the 6-8th grade level, the books are all middle grade, which I don't like as much as I like YA novels
  • because they tried to include a range, there are a few that are in genres I'm not a big fan of
  • there's some diversity, but it's still a pretty white list
  • at least two of the books by Oregon authors are just not as good as other books that could have been included
Still, there are some good and even great books, and at least middle grade novels are pretty quick reads.

The books on our list this year are:

Avenging the Owl
Absolutely Almost
The Luck Uglies
I Will Always Write Back
The Body in the Woods
Cryptid Hunters
Doll Bones
The Gauntlet
My Seventh Grade Life in Tights
Small as an Elephant
The Last Apprentice
The Sword of Summer
Wolf Hollow
The Wishing Spell

The highlighted books are ones I'd already read.  Since we've started I also read Absolutely Almost (cute) and The Luck Uglies (terrific!), and tried to read Avenging the Owl (argh). I'm kind of nervous about Cryptid Hunters. Take a look at the cover:

It doesn't scream "Wendy, read me!" does it?

After years of working with young readers who were still working at connecting to books, it really is fun to have a group that LOVES reading. One girl asked me, "Is it okay if I read all the books on this list?"  Well, yes. I guess you can do that. 

I also told them I'd give prizes for team names, and my top choice is the Dumbledorks. And I asked them to rate their enthusiasm on a scale of 1-5, and one girl wrote "9 3/4!" These are my people.


  1. Yeah, that angry dinosaur book doesn’t look very appealing to me, either. I’m glad the kids are enthusiastic about reading! Hopefully they enjoy the books on the list.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I have been reading so many amazing MG books, but none of them are on your list. Yeah, that cover doesn't appeal to me, but I am sure there are some kids that like that kind of stuff. Good luck with the "battle". Sounds like fun.

  3. Gosh, I'm embarrassed to say I haven't heard of any of these. My kids are early 20s now.

  4. I think it's so cool that you're entire state has a battle of the books competition. I want to do that! Connecticut is small enough! Good luck with your reading!


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