I spent a few hours away from my blogging post one morning this week at my fourth grader’s elementary school, and it was time well spent. Every year, our school librarian hosts a “Battle of the Books” to inspire kids to team up and read 15 really good books between them, then answer questions that tax their memories about plot, characters, and descriptions from the books.
This friendly competition was almost shut down by our district’s administrators a few years ago because they argued “the research shows” that remembering small details about books is not a good test of reading comprehension. Probably true. But I could care less. It’s one of the best things to happen during the school year because it inspires lots of kids to read at least five really good books at home that they might otherwise never have read. If one 10-year-old reads one book she wouldn’t have picked up with no “battle” ahead, then the program is a success in my book.
There’s another reason why it’s hard to argue with Battle of the Books: Kids split lots of their learning and fun time between screens these days — smartboards, computer screens, TV screens, iPods, and portable video games all vie for their attention. It’s nice to see a pile of books draw their eyes down to the written page every once in awhile.