ELKHART — Some 21 fifth and sixth graders from the Elkhart area took part in a unique quiz bowl style competition Saturday morning testing their knowledge of popular books.
Battle of the Books in the Elkhart Public Library's downtown location at 300 S. 2nd St. featured teams of four or five students who were quizzed on 10 popular fiction titles. Five teams from Beardsley and Mary Beck elementary schools in Elkhart and Concord Intermediate School in Dunlap registered over the winter and received the stack of books to prepare.
Team members divided the books among themselves and studied them carefully to prepare for Saturday's competition. The round-robin tournament featured 20 questions during each round requiring short answers on the details and themes of each book.
Concord Intermediate School's team won the competition.
The event is designed to get students excited about reading and a chance to compete on a team if they are not athletically gifted.
"The schools benefit from the event because, hopefully, it's a fun event that will get kids more engaged into reading, and not just reading for pleasure, but also for context and themes – those types of things too," said Trevor Wendzonka, who manages marketing and public relations for the library.
The competition included fiction titles like "Doll Bones" by Holly Black, "The School for Good and Evil" by Soman Chainani and "The Thief Lord" by Cornelia Funke. The selections came from a list of books young people frequently were checking out from the library, McLean said.
"Reading is empowering, and this event gives kids who aren't into sports a chance to work at and compete in something meaningful," says Allison McLean, who manages the Young People's Services area at the library.
Wendzonka said Battle of the Books is in its second year. The program is paid for with a three-year grant from the Kroger Foundation, so the event will be returning next winter.
"We were using this as kind of a platform for schools to be thinking about how it can fit potentially in next year's system, so we can get more fifth and sixth-grade students from Elkhart, Concord and maybe some of the private schools involved," Wendzonka said.