Category Archives: Battle of the Books

BOTB 2016

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The EY team is excited to announce that we’ll be partnering with Ralston Public Schools for the 2016 Battle of the Books Competition.  More details will be provided in the fall, but we wanted to make sure you had the book list for summer in case you wanted to get a head start.

Click Here for the List of Books

Students in grades 3-6 are welcome to form a team of 2-4 students.  The book list only contains 15 books and we realize that a couple are repeats from the last two years.

Highlights from BOTB 2015

bookworm_red  Recipe for Sharing Your Love of Reading & Writing
  • 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!

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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!”  

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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.”

Click Here for a Portion of our Skype Call With W.H. Beck



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.

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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!

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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.

Don’t Forget to Submit Your BOTB Keynotes!

Remember that your Battle of the Books Keynotes are due this Thursday, February 19th.  You can find directions on how to submit your Keynotes here.  You will receive a confirmation email letting you know that your Keynote was received.  Once all Keynotes have been submitted and reviewed, you will receive more information about the Battle of the Books event on March 13th.

We can’t wait to see you all in March!


Battle of the Books Sign-Up



Sign up for Battle of the Books by Clicking Here

The EY team is so excited for Battle of the Books!  We are looking forward to having a traditional BOTB competition in addition to several other activities where kids will be recognized and celebrated for their love of reading!

A few things to keep in mind…

  1. All students in grades 3-6 are welcome to participate!
  2. It’s not too late to start reading for Battle of the Books!  Students in 3rd grade need to read 5 books and students in 4th-6th grade need to read 10 books.  
  3. An activity needs to be completed for each book.  There is a video on how to add your activities to your Keynote.  Click here to watch the video.
  4. To prepare for BOTB, you can meet with friends before school, during lunch, or after school to talk about the books you’re reading.  Feel free to share your activities and projects.  There are tons of resources (sample questions, links to authors’ websites, book trailers, etc.) on our wiki @

We have an exciting day planned for Friday, March 13.  You will work in teams to answer questions about the books (traditional BOTB style).  You will also compete individually.  BONUS:  We have 3 authors from the book list lined up to Skype with us!

2014-2015 Battle of the Books

After careful consideration, the EY team has decided to revise Battle of the Books so that it is less competitive and more about critical thinking.  We still hope to instill a love of reading, but make the responses to the literature more meaningful.  The students will still be encouraged to read the 20 designated books.  When they complete a novel, students will be able to choose from a list of activities to complete.  Their products will be added to a Battle of the Books keynote that they will work on throughout the year.  The EY coordinators will go into the classrooms during E/I time in the next couple weeks to show students how to download the keynote and activities onto their iPads.  This keynote product will be part of their ticket into the district Battle of the Books seminar which will be held on Friday, March 13th, 2015.  During this day long event, we will have several different activities for the students to participate in such as a quiz bowl, an author and/or illustrator visit, and several other creative contests.  All activities will be a celebration of their accomplishment and love of reading.

If parents, teachers, or librarians are still interested in a traditional Battle of the Books competition, they are welcome to organize it.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q. Do I need to be in EY to participate?

A. No, any 3rd through 6th grade student who loves to read may participate.

Q. Do I need to form a team?

A. While the seminar won’t require a team, students are still encouraged to meet as a group and discuss the books.  In the past, some schools have held discussions during lunch or after school.

Q. Do I have to read all the books to participate?

A. In order to be invited to the seminar, students must read and complete an activity for 10 of the 20 books.  The activities and keynote can be found on our wiki (link below).  NOTE: While reading all 20 books is not mandatory, students who read all of the books may have a better chance at the quiz bowl competition during the seminar.

The 2014-15 book list and student resources can be found on our wiki at: