- 20 Books
- Over 150 Authentic Book Projects
- 3 Authors
- 1 Playwright
- A Dash of Competition
- A Little Free Library
- A Sprinkling of our Favorite Neighborhood Bookstore
Yields: 120 students receiving a message of inspiration, perseverance, and hope!
Battle of the Books took a different spin this year at Westside Community Schools. The morning started off with kids arriving and putting their book projects on display. For each book read, students chose one project to complete. There were 3-5 project choices for each book ranging from dioramas, to writing a letter to the author, to doing further research on a topic in the book.
Drew, 4th grader at Swanson said: I loved doing the Battle Of The Books activities, and reading the books! Most of the books were amazing!
Check out some of the student projects submitted!
Next, Omaha Playwright (and Westside graduate, parent and community member) Ellen Struve talked about her profession and love of reading & writing. Not only did she talk about her personal journey to becoming a playwright, but Ms. Struve also involved the students in creating their very own play! Throughout her presentation, Ellen embedded information about characters, dialogue, conflict, scene, and setting. Based on the engagement level and questions asked by kids, there will most likely be additional play writers emerging from Westside in the future!
We found 3 BOTB authors on Twitter and they graciously agreed to Skype with our students! Katherine Fitzmaurice, author of A Diamond in the Desert was up first. She emphasized all the research that went into writing the book and even showed us pictures of the real characters. She also showed students a pile of rejection letters and the numerous changes suggested by her editor. Her advice for students wanting to write a book: “You have to really like what you’re writing about. Believe in yourself and like your story!”
Our next Skype call was with Valerie Hobbs, author of Sheep. Many students chose to write Ms. Hobbs a letter for their book project and she graciously wrote letters back to all of them! Talk about making a personal connection! Several students read Sheep and fell in love with Jack, the border collie who tells the story.
Many students were excited when Ms. Hobbs shared information about the newly released sequel to Sheep. At the end of Sheep, Jack finds Luke at the Good Shepherd Home for Boys. Together, they are adopted by a couple and the sequel Wolf continues Luke and Jack’s story at their new home, a sheep ranch in Northern California. Ms. Hobbs’ writing advice for the students: “Do a whole lot of reading of the type of book you’d like to write.”
Our final Skype call was with W.H. Beck, author of Malcolm at Midnight. In addition to being an author, Ms. Beck is a school librarian. Her advice for students was, “Make sure to set aside time each day to write. You can make a list, write a short story, or just write down your random thoughts.”
We didn’t forget the competition portion of Battle of the Books. Students worked in teams to answer questions about all 20 books. They used their iPads and participated in a Kahoot! created by Mrs. Lusero. Students also took an individual test on a Google form.
At the end of the day, Marla Fries shared her love of reading by telling the students about her Little Free Library. Marla is a WCS community member, retired administrator, and volunteer at Westgate Elementary.
After the event, one student was so inspired that she wanted to build her own Little Free Library! Check out Ava’s work!
Ellen Scott from our neighborhood bookstore, The Bookworm, also shared her personal story and love of reading with the students. She presented the kids with an opportunity to be on The Bookworm’s Kid Advisory Board. We are so fortunate to have a family-owned bookstore in our Westside community!
Friday, March 13th was truly a wonderful day to celebrate many accomplishments! To all the students who participated, Thank You for all your hard word and willingness to try something new. The EY Team learned a lot throughout the process and we look forward to hearing your feedback!
If you attended Battle of the Books this year, please consider leaving a comment and letting us know your favorite part! Also, click here for a quick survey about the day.