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Teams of fourth grade students cram into Mr. Anyan’s classroom to compete for Battle of the Books (BOB). Around 80 students give up their lunch recess to be quizzed by Mrs. Rees, the school librarian, on content found in books on the reading list.

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In the April Wave: Battle of the Books; April activities for kids
3/26/2014 11:14:08 AM

By Tammy Kimberley
Splash Staff Writer

While March Madness wraps up this month for basketball fans, a different kind of competition is heating up for book lovers - Battle of the Books.

Commonly referred to by students as BOB, this optional book reading contest for fourth graders is in its second year at Liberty Lake Elementary School. 

Around 80 kids make up 16 teams in the school BOB competition. They are split down into two groups that practice once a week on either Tuesdays or Thursdays during lunch recess. 

Luke Abshire, part of the team Who Is Going To Stop Us?, said he joined BOB to get better at reading. 

"Our team did really well the first few weeks, but the questions have gotten harder each week," the 10-year-old said. "I really like the competition."

Mr. Anyan, LLES teacher and one of the BOB organizers, explained that all teams compete during the seven-week preliminary round, and then teams are narrowed down to compete for another few weeks until a winner emerges. In April, that LLES team will compete via Skype against the winning team from a school in the Snoqualmie Valley School District where Mr. Anyan used to teach before moving to Liberty Lake.

He said he often hears students say that the competition encouraged them to read books they would never have picked up otherwise. Many students read all of the books on the reading list by the end of the competition.

"Kids are rediscovering classics such as ‘Black Beauty,' and I have heard students talking about how their parents had read the same books as kids," Mr. Anyan said. "It is very exciting to see students broaden their reading horizon with little incentive other than their own determination."

The reading list was chosen based on librarian recommendations from award-winning books as well as various literature classics. One of the books on this year's list, "Home Of The Brave," is written in verses and has a poetic style. When Mr. Anyan asked some boys what they thought of reading a poetry book, they said that they would have never picked it up. But now that they had, they couldn't put it down. 

LLES librarian and BOB organizer Cyd Rees said the program encourages students to read a variety of genres and text levels, as well as books that highlight different periods in history, which builds up a community of readers.

"(Students) have a great camaraderie even with fellow students who are not on their team, because they have read the same books," Mrs. Rees said. 

Natalie Brown, 9, said she helped form her team Speedy Readers for the friendly competition, but she has read lots of new books since participating. 

"I really enjoyed ‘Snow Treasure' because the kids go on a cool adventure in Norway to this place with gold," Natalie said. "I really like the plot."

Mr. Anyan said he rarely sees kids at all reading levels devour books, as he does in BOB. 

"They are like book zombies that can't stop feeding on the pages before them," he said. "Their zeal for reading is what gets me so pumped and excited about hosting BOB each year." 

Alison Hassett, 9, said some of her friends said they weren't good readers, and she wanted to help them. So they formed a team called the 80s Style Rainbow Raiders. 

"I thought the girls on my team would have fun," Alison said. "It's fun to compete, especially against friends on the other teams."

Students form their own groups, which encourages accountability among team members to make sure all the texts are read, and they choose their own team names. Some of the team names have included 3 Tall 2 Small, el Fuego, Satellite Turkeys, The Bookworms and the Mustache Cows. 

"The team names are a true reflection of the fun spirit we have for Battle of the Books," Mrs. Rees said. "Any chance to see students reading with such enthusiasm is a dream come true for a teacher/librarian!" 


Battle of the Books 
2014 Reading List
"Black Stallion" by Walter Farley
"Boy at the End of the World" by Greg Van Eekhout
"Dollhouse Murders" by Betty Ren Wright
"Home of the Brave" by Katherine Applegate
"Jake Ransom and the Skull King Shadow" by James Rollins
"Matilda" by Roald Dahl
"Snow Treasure" by Marie McSwigan
"Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo
"The Capture" by Kathryn Lasky
"When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead
"Wolf Brother" by Michelle Paver
"Little Wolf's Book of Badness" by Ian Whybrow

• • • • • 

April activities just for kids
Bunny visits. Easter Egg hunts. Healthy kid activities. April is the month to get out and do something in the Valley! 

Photos with the Easter Bunny
April 5 to 19, various times
JC Penny Court, Spokane Valley Mall 

Shrine Circus
April 17-20, various times 
Spokane Valley Mall parking lot
General admission tickets start at $10.

Liberty Lake Easter Egg Hunt
April 19, 11 a.m.
Pavillion Park, Liberty Lake 
Registration of $3 or six eggs filled 
with candy occurs April 14 and 16 
at Liberty Lake Municipal Library. 

Community Easter Egg Hunt
April 19, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Valley Real Life, 1831 S. Barker Road

Summer Kids Expo
April 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Warehouse Athletic Facility, Spokane
Learn about activities, events, classes, clinics, camps and programs to keep children active this summer.

Rockford Easter Egg Hunt
April 19, 1 p.m. 
Prime Land Office Building lawn areas, Rockford

Healthy Kids Day
April 26, 9 a.m. to noon 
Spokane Valley YMCA, 2421 N. Discovery Place
Free community event to encourage kids to get moving and encourage families to live healthier.


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