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Tournament Rules

Team members

Each team will consist of 10 members. Teams can play any six members during a battle. Members may be substituted between battles only. A battle is defined as one round of 10 questions for each team. The members not in play must sit quietly without talking or participating in any way while the battle is in progress.

All Star Team (an Alternate Team)

In the best of times, an equal number of teams register to participate in the Battle of the Books Tournament and no team withdraws at the last minute. However, we anticipate this as a possibility. In this event, it will be necessary for an All Star Team to help us out. We will have a few teams designated to be All Star teams that will be able to fill the spot of a team not able to participate for whatever reason. Coaches will indicate if they have a group that could be an All Star team, and by lottery, a school or schools will be nominated to provide a second team as an All-Star team. There will need to be someone who is willing to act as a coach to the All-Star team throughout the competition (a parental supervisor). All Star Team members and coaches will join their school teams during the Parade of Readers and Celebration, where they will be recognized for their exceptional service.

Battle Flow & Timing of Questions

Each team will have the opportunity to answer 10 questions in a battle. Opposing teams will have the chance to answer a missed question following a wrong answer. This is called a rebound. B.O.B. Moderators will act as final judges. Coaches or non-participating team members will act as score and timekeepers.

  • Each team will have 30 seconds to answer a question after it is read. If the spokesperson asks for the question to be read again, the time will stop while the moderator reads it. Then time resumes.

  • Opposing team members will have 15 seconds to answer a rebound question after it is read. There are no repeats of the question allowed at this point.


Scoring is cumulative. At the end of all of the battles, the top two highest scoring teams will be recognized for their outstanding achievement (1st & 2nd place) and will get to participate in a bonus battle, called the Readers Celebration Round, in our Readers Celebration. Each of the regular round battles will be made up of 9 questions plus one bonus question that is free response. The Readers Celebration round will be made up of all bonus-type questions (free response).


  • Five points will be scored for each correct answer. In order to receive points, the title, author(s), and illustrator must all be correct. The last question, a free response question, will also be worth five points.

  • If a team answers incorrectly, the opposing team will have a chance to answer and earn one point for a correct "rebound" response.

  • Teams will be responsible for keeping score on a large paper pad in the battle room. The moderator will help make sure it is accurate. During the battles, if a discrepancy occurs, please notify the moderator immediately. The moderator’s decision is final.

  • At the end of each battle, coaches will sign at the bottom of the score sheet.

  • Answers to questions deemed incorrect can be contested after the opposing team has its chance for a rebound. If it is decided that the question was correct by our judges in the Readers Room, the score for both teams will be adjusted to reflect the changes.

Readers' Celebration Round

The two teams who have the highest cumulative scores will be recognized at the Readers Celebration and face each other in the Readers Celebration Round. The battle flow and timing will be the same as in the regular rounds, but the questions will ALL be free response (like the bonus questions in the regular battles). These questions will require teams to recall something from a particular book. An example:

Free response question: In the book Running Out of Time by Haddix, from what disease were the people in Jessie’s town dying?

Answer: Diphtheria

Scoring will be the same as in the regular rounds, five points for a correct answer and one point for a correct rebound answer. Both teams that participate in the Reader Celebration Round will be applauded. If there is a tie, there will be a tiebreaker round in which each team member will get a question, and they will write their answer on a piece of paper. The team with the most correct answers will win. Tie-breaker rounds will continue until a winner can be determined.

How to Answer a Question Correctly

Except for the bonus questions and Readers Celebration round, the answer for all questions will be the title, author, and, if applicable, illustrator of the book.

In order for an answer to be correct, here are guidelines:

    • Say the underlined portions of the title, author(s), and illustrator(s) names. The spokesperson must say the title, author, and illustrator (if applicable) correctly. The complete title, author, and illustrator (if applicable) can be stated exactly as written on the book list. However, only the underlined portions of the title and names on the book list are required to be said.

    • Distinguish the author(s) from the illustrator(s). If there is an illustrator listed, the spokesperson must distinguish the author(s) from the illustrator(s) (for example: "Written by Mattheis, illustrated by Valiant" or "by Mattheis and illustrated by Valiant")

      • If the author and illustrator are the same person, it must be indicated that he/she is both the author and the illustrator. e.g. "Written by Brooks, Illustrated by Brooks" or "Written & illustrated by Brooks."

      • If a photographer is listed in the picture book section, it is correct to say "photographed by," but "illustrated by" will also be accepted.

    • If a book is a compilation of works by other authors, then "selected by" or something of the sorts should be indicated on the book list to say. This sometimes happens with poetry books.

At the beginning of every battle, one spokesperson is nominated for each team. Team members should confer before the team responds. Once the spokesperson begins to respond with an answer, it is that answer that will be accepted as the response. Only the team that is answering the question may confer with each other. The opposing team must remain silent until it is their turn to receive the question. Hand gestures or signals of any kind may not be used by anyone whether in play or observing.

Contesting an Answer

If a team feels that its answer is correct (but it was deemed incorrect), they must voice this to the moderator immediately AFTER the opposing team has its chance for a rebound. The moderator will write down the original answer given by the team, and it will be submitted for review by our experts in the Readers Room. If they determine that the answer was a correct answer, the points for the teams will be changed to reflect this.

From Where Questions May Be Taken

  • Questions CANNOT come from: the book jacket, dedication, table of contents, and index.

  • Questions CAN be asked from illustrations of books, such as, what a character is doing in the illustration or the kind of media used to create the illustrations: watercolor, sketches, photos, etc. This type of question is to encourage the students to look more closely at the illustrations and the role they play in communicating the author’s ideas and contributing to the overall tone of the book. Questions about the illustrations can come from any of the books. An equal number of picture book questions per battle per team will be asked in each round of the battles.

See the Prepping to get a better idea of how questions will be formulated for the battles.

Who can be in a Battle Room

  • ONLY team members, the moderator, coaches, principals, Battle of the Books committee and staff members, media technicians, news reporters, and visiting dignitaries may be in the room when the battles are taking place.

  • There should be no more than 3 coaches per team in the room during battles.

Parents and others are invited to attend the Parade of Readers and Celebration on the last day of competition. The Readers Celebration Round will take place during this time.


Teams are expected to:

  • Exhibit good readersmanship.

  • Pass quietly in the hallways.

  • Wait patiently for teams to finish battles.

  • Respect the school building and classrooms.

  • Return the desks and chairs to their proper places at the end of the last battle.

  • Silence all cell phones and all electronic devices during the competition. Team members should not have cell phones or any electronic devices in a battle to protect the integrity of the competition.

  • Note that videotaping is not allowed except by authorized personnel. Photos should be taken before and after the battles, not during the battles.

Please do not write down competition questions & answers. We go to great lengths to create high-quality questions and would like them to remain ours.


Show your school pride with Battle of the Books t-shirts, banners, and mascots (especially for the Parade of Readers and Celebration the last day). T-shirts should demonstrate pride for your school and not feature any book title, author/illustrator, or words that could be construed as a possible answer to a question. Teams will be asked to turn their t-shirts inside out if the shirts feature any of the above.