At the Start
How often does your team need to practice?
This is up to you and your team!
Forming a Team
We recommend getting as many students excited about Battle of the Books as possible, and deciding on your final team roster closer to the competition. However, every school or group is different. You are welcome to coach more than one team, as long as there is a unique adult responsible for each team the day of the competition. In October, school registration forms are due. Team rosters are not due until March.
If you need to have tryouts to narrow down who is on a final team(s), we suggest doing this in mid-February or later. At that time, consider the following for each student:
# of books read
Attendance at practices
Memorized titles, authors, and illustrators
# of questions written
Participation in book discussions
Good “readersmanship” (sportsmanship)
Just because a student doesn’t make the team, doesn’t mean that he/she can’t continue to practice with your team. It is up to the coaches to decide who can attend practices after a team is decided. However, only team members will be allowed into the battles on competition day.
Choosing How to Compete
Just like in sports, we are leaving it up to the coach to decide how the team “plays” in the competition.
Have 6 main team members who compete in every battle with up to 4 team members as alternates, or,
If you want to give all of your 10 members a chance to compete, you can rotate who is in each battle. All 10 team members will be allowed in the room for each battle. One thing to consider in being fair is the amount of work the different students have done to prepare for the competition. Non-competing members in the room will help us keep score.
Phases of Practicing
Understanding & Goal-setting. At first, students will need to learn how the competition works and know the timeline. For some groups, a good motivator is to set a minimum number of books the students must read in order to participate. Have a discussion about who wants to try to read all of them, and help them set goals for how they can make that happen. Dividing up the book list amongst the team members to ensure that all of the books are read can make them all feel a part of a whole.
Reading, Memorizing, & Writing. Students will start reading books and begin memorizing titles, authors, and illustrators of books. This is important so that in later practices they will be used to giving answers to questions in the right format. Have fun- talk about the books! As they start finishing books, have them reflect about them and write their own questions for practice battles. If you submit the questions they write, there is a chance they could see their questions in the actual competition!
Book Talks & Mock Battles. One fun thing about reading is that everyone picks up on different details, and has different takeaways from what they’ve read. As team members start finishing books, you can do group discussions about books (as a whole group, small groups, or partners). You can have them present about their favorite book so far. They can compare/contrast how they reflected about the same book. This phase is all about enjoying the process and for team members to see the value of their teammates. Mock battles within your team or with others are a great way of illustrating how great it is to have someone else on your team who has read the same book!
Closer to competition. As the competition draws nearer, make sure to review the rules with your team and if you do mock battles, adhere to them. Make sure your team has a plan for who your spokesperson will be in the battles (often this switches, but there may be team members who do not want to be a spokesperson). Talk about how to fight nerves, how to guess, proper conduct in the battle room (this includes team members not in that particular battle) and what your team will do if it is divided on an answer to a question.
Competition Day. At least 1 coach or assistant coach is required to be present on the competition days for each team. He/she will be there to check-in the team, help the competition stay on schedule by helping his/her team stay organized, and be the students’ chaperone for the day.
Suggest that 2+ team members have read each book
Check for updates on our “Resources” tab for practices
Be sure team members read all of each book: captions under pictures, introductions, forwards, author’s notes, prologues, etc.
Have each student keep a folder of info and study guides
Write many practice questions (team members)
Ask parents/guardians to read books and write questions
Encourage team members to guess if they don’t know an answer
Can provide an incentive for members when they finish reading a book