Battle of the Books

Battle of the Books

May 2, 2024

Igniting a Love for Reading: The Jeffrey Trail Battle of the Books

In a world where technology often competes for our attention, cultivating a love for reading among students can be a challenging task. The educators at Jeffrey Trail Middle School have found a creative and engaging way to promote literacy through their Battle of the Books program, made possible by a generous Innovation Grant from the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.

The Battle of the Books is a year-long reading competition designed to foster a passion for reading and promote teamwork, engagement, and fun among students. Led by teacher and librarian Amanda Lelliott, this innovative program has captured the hearts and minds of students and educators alike.

The program culminates in a high-energy quiz-style tournament designed to test students’ knowledge and understanding of the books they’ve read throughout the year. Seventeen teams vied for the trophy, completing four rounds of trivia games about major plots and character information, character matching, details that enrich the overall story, and matching quotes to their respective books. With 40 questions in each round, the competition was fierce, and the excitement was palpable.

As Amanda Lelliott describes, “The energy in the room is on par with experiences like a World Series game or a Taylor Swift concert. Seeing these students’ passion for reading is incredible.”

In addition to having their names engraved on the legacy trophy that is displayed in the library, the winning team, Curry and Rice, was presented with a trophy and will receive a book of their choosing to treasure. This not only celebrates their victory but also reinforces the value of reading and the importance of continued engagement with literature.

The year-long journey begins long before the final event in March. Students sign up to be part of a team and collectively read eight books over the year. Monthly meetings in the library provide opportunities for team building, study sessions, and discussions about the books they’re reading.

The reading list is carefully curated by the librarian with input from students, focusing on books that provide students with a diverse selection of viewpoints, authors, and genres. This ensures that students are exposed to a wide range of literature that they may not have encountered otherwise, enriching their reading experience, and broadening their horizons.

“Battle of the Books is a fun and positive group competition with awesome people,” explains Arielle Urano, 8th grade student at Jeffrey Trail. “It encourages student to read fantastic books and really take a deep dive in them while having fun with their group mates and friends.”

Interest in the Battle of the Books program at Jeffrey Trail Middle School has seen significant growth, however participation has been limited by available resources. With IPSF’s support, Lelliott hopes to expand the program at JTMS, inspire other schools to start their own Battle of the Books, and host a district-wide competition in the future.

School-wide competitions often focus on subjects like science, math, and history; the Battle of the Books fills a crucial gap, providing students who love English and language arts with a platform to showcase their skills and passion for reading.

As Amanda Lelliott eloquently puts it, “Books aren’t just paper and glue; they have the power to plant the seeds of innovation and inspire ideas through the stories they share. They can expand students’ worldviews, deepen their knowledge of history and the human condition, and provide narrative rehearsal for the challenges they may encounter in life.”

Battle of the Books is not just a competition; it’s a celebration of reading, learning, and the power of literature to transform lives. IPSF is proud to support programs like Battle of the Books that enrich the educational experience of students across IUSD.