Estevan’s Grade 7-8 students came together for a literacy competition. Six teams from Hillcrest, Westview, Spruce Ridge and Pleasantdale Schools participated in 2019 Battle of the Books.
Students had two months to read 10 books of different genres picked by the Estevan Area Literacy Group (EALG). Each team had its own approach to reading. The Spruce Ridge School’s team explained how they explored the offered books.
“We split the books, so everybody had four books to read, and then we’ve read two together. And you just re-read the books. And once you were in for a few years, you just know what kind of questions they are going to ask and you just know to memorize the details,” said Spruce Ridge’s Laura Swirski.
Starting January kids were reading OCDaniel, Refugee, Oliver Twist, I am Malala, Pathfinder, When the Past is Present, Casey at the Bat, Master Minds, Treasure Hunters and The Blackthorn Key.
Most participants named OCDaniels by Wesley King as their favourite book.
Besides reading and memorizing, each group had to come up with the team-name, costume and a poster. For four students from Spruce Ridge, it was the third Battle of the Books. Not only did they participate in this literacy competition for three years, but they also won all of their battles. Every year the team name was different. First, they were Nerd Alert, then Book Smugglers, and this year they decided to be Mixed Minds.
“We looked online for common team names and then we found what we liked. And then we started brainstorming ideas that would look good on a poster,” said Swirski.
Spruce Ridge’s Mixed Minds with Jesse Gibson, Seth Peters, Kristen Carlson and Swirski on their team claimed the champion’s title with 60.5 points. Bedtime Stories of Westview School chose pajamas as their team theme. They claimed the second spot with 58.5 points and also won the best outfit title. The Nerd Herd of Pleasantdale School came in third with 55.5 points and was recognized as the team with the best poster as well. The Midnight Readers of Hillcrest School received 45.5 points. Belliferous Bulldogs of Pleasantdale School had 22.5 points, being just 1.5 point ahead of their schoolmates, Book Busters.
The winners believe that this competition is great for anybody who likes reading. It also comes with lunch and rewards, which makes it more attractive to many students.
“Winning food and prizes is the best part. And the quality time,” said Peters.
The literacy co-ordinator with the EALG Regina Barz talked about why they organize the event and why kids come.
“The kids actually come because of Coke and pizza pretty much… while we are trying to push kids to read more, which is hard because as they grow older they don’t want to,” said Barz.
The participation is free of charge. The EALG with the support from the United Way Estevan and Saskatchewan Lotteries provides books and everything needed.
Many kids agreed that if not for the game they wouldn’t hear of most of the books they were offered to read, but they really enjoyed all of them. And that is another reason why they keep participating.
“The books they’ve had for the past three years, I think, were really good,” said Swirski.
This annual event is aimed at promoting literacy among kids of different ages and different backgrounds.
“Each kid needs to learn that literacy is huge. If you move from a different country, you need to read a lot, so you are actually learning the language,” said Barz.
Grade 5-6’s battle of the Books is coming up on March 29. It will take place at Westview School, which won the battle last year.