About Battle of the Books

Battle of the Books is a fun, friendly competition where teams of students read books from a specified list and then compete in a trivia contest based on those books.

In the School District of Palm Beach County, the Battle of the Books is a district-wide reading motivation and comprehension book-related competition for students grades 3 - 12. The incentive program is sponsored by the Department of K-12 Instructional Materials and Library Media Services in partnership with the Departments of Instructional Technology and Educational Technology. The goals of the program are to:

  • encourage independent reading for personal satisfaction
  • recognize students who demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of books
  • broaden reading interests by exposing students to a variety of genres
  • promote collaboration and teamwork
  • promote creative thinking and problem solving
  • improve reading and comprehension skills
  • promote healthy competition based on mutual respect
  • promote academic excellence and the highest student achievement
  • promote the Sunshine State Young Readers Awards Books and the Florida Teens Read Books

The three divisions in the SDPBC Battle of the Books correspond to the divisions in the Sunshine State Young Readers Awards and Florida Teens Read booklists.

Students form teams of 2 to 5 students at the school division level. Team members read books from the designated list then come together to demonstrate their abilities and test their knowledge of the books they have read.

SDPBC Battle of the Books is introduced to teachers in grades 3 - 5, 6 - 8 and 9 - 12 by the library media specialist or sponsoring teacher. Participating students are then given several months to read the 15 titles for their age group and quiz each other on what they have read.

The program includes an Online Qualifying Battle during which teams respond to multiple choice questions from the fifteen, age appropriateSunshine State Young Readers Award or Florida Teens Read titles. Questions are based on plots, settings, and characters.

The Online Qualifying Battles are given during the month of January to determine the two teams in each division who will advance to the District's Grand Battle in February. At the District's Grand Battle, the first-place team for each of the three levels carries home a traveling trophy to the house in their school library media center until the next year's Grand Battle. The team members' names and school are also added to the perpetual plaque housed at Fulton-Holland Educational Service Center.

History of the Battle of the Books

The term 'Battle of the Books' first appeared in a satire written by Jonathan Swift at the end of the seventeenth century in France. Swift wrote in response to an ongoing argument over the question of whether contemporary learning, supported by 'the moderns', had surpassed that of learning during the Classical Age in Greece and Rome, a position supported by 'the ancients'.

Swift's short satire entitled "The Battle of the Books" (1705) centered around an epic battle fought in a library when various books come alive and attempt to settle the arguments between moderns and ancients. In Swift's satire, he avoids saying which argument is correct. He portrays the manuscript as having been damaged in places, thus leaving the end of the battle up to the reader.

In recent times, Battle of the Books began in the 1940s as a Chicago radio program sponsored by the Chicago Public Library. Today it is a reading incentive program found in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country.

The School District of Palm Beach County hosted its first Battle of the Books competition in 2008-2009 with 272 teams competing. The battle has grown in size and popularity each year with 667 teams and over 2800 students competing in the 2014-2015 competition.

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