BECKET — Across the country, students spent thousands of hours reading hundreds of books to prepare for the ultimate end-of-the-year showdown, known as America's Battle of the Books.
The reading incentive program brings collaboration around literacy, building teams of voluntary students to read a predetermined list of books throughout the school year. At the year's end, teams each bring their knowledge of the books' details — characters, plots, dialogues, etc. — to a timed trivia competition to win bragging rights and prizes.
Earlier this month, a few hundred students from Central Berkshire Regional School District and Pittsfield Public Schools participated in the Battle of the Books program in their respective districts.
A team from St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Adams came in first in the Grades 5/6 division at the May 10 Battle of the Books held by the Springfield Diocese at Mater Dolorosa Catholic School in Holyoke.
Central Berkshire held its second-annual battle at Becket Washington School on June 3, with teams comprised of 8 to 10 students in grades 3 through 5, from Becket Washington, Craneville and Kittredge schools.
Pittsfield held its sixth Battle of the Books on June 10, which included more than 200 students. The Allendale Book Bots took home the Grade 3 win, while and Grades 4/5 had co-champions, the Conte Flash Back Readers and Egremont Daring Detectives.
"I was impressed at how well behaved the students were and how much they knew about the books they had read," said Kay Latham, who helped coordinate the event.
Each day-long battle relied on staff and community judges, scorekeepers, and coaches — the latter whom helped throughout the year.
"When we read books, we try to remember to take notes and quiz ourselves to try and remember details," said Becket Washington fourth-grader, Nate Miller.
"We also try to help each other prepare," said his classmate, Kadyn Graham.
On battle day, festively dressed teams battled each other in rotation, earning points for correct answers and author identification. The book list and questions come from the national program, which offers materials for grades 3 through 12.
Prior to being principal at Becket Washington, Leslie Blake-Davis helped to establish Battle of the Books in Pittsfield. She said in advance of the battles, "As in most competitions there is a winning team and a runner up. Battle of the Books is no exception. However the level of team sportsmanship has traditionally been a winning spirit exhibited by all! We anticipate a lively and close Grand Battle!"
Her prognostication was spot-on. The Grand Battle between the Becket Washington BOBaroonies and the Kittredge Knights of Book Tower went into double overtime. The Knights took home the trophy, and the BOBaroonies wore their medals with pride.
Said moderator and Superintendent Laurie Casna, "I've never seen such awesome collaboration and perseverance."