This is the first year that McBride Elementary has competed in Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB), and now a team of five well-read fourth graders are gearing up for their first regionals battle on Saturday, March 10 at the St. Helens High School.
Parent volunteer Kristal Freeman credits the Parent Teacher Organization for ensuring access to OBOB, though she was also a driving force behind implementing the program as her son had competed in middle school. “My son has been involved for several years and he suddenly realized there is a world of books out there. It really opened his eyes,” Freeman said. “This is a great program because not every kid wants to play soccer or football or track, and not everyone can afford to even put their kid in a sport.”
PTO president Katie Crouch said they were presented with three programs to introduce to the board. OBOB was one of the two that were chosen. Crouch’s daughter is severely dyslexic and she initially thought there was no way her child would be able to read through all of the books. “I thought, my daughter really wants to do this but I’m going to have to break her heart,” Crouch said. That is, until Freeman told her that students had the option of listening to the books on audio. “So she did it and she loved it. It was great fun for them even with not going on. It gets kids reading, even when we have kids who may not have been interested in reading, then you open them up to a whole different realm of books that they might not have read before. They’re broadening their horizon.”
OBOB is a free activity, as the PTO raised money to ensure that the list of 16 books were available in the library. This year there were five different teams that competed on a school level. Though they don’t have to read all of the books because each student is assigned six to cover, many of the girls have cited reading 10 to 12 of them. “That’s a lot for little kids. They want to read them all,” Freeman said. “Each student picked a primary reader and a secondary reader just to make sure every book was covered by at least two people.”
The competition tests the students’ comprehension of each book. They are required to memorize the title and author and, during the competition, they will be asked to confirm details from the pages. The competition itself works a little like Family Feud. “The way it works, there are two teams that are battling and it is a battle,” Freeman said. “There are two groups on each side of the room and the moderator asks the question of one team and if they get it right, they get all five points. If they get it wrong, the moderator then asks the other team and they get 15 seconds to talk about their answer and they must answer promptly as soon as time is called.”
The teams are asked eight “in which book” questions and eight content questions. If one team gets an answer wrong, then the opposite team may steal their points. “They’re a wonderful group of girls and they definitely have their little personalities, but they are working well as a team,” Freeman said. “That’s another thing I really like about OBOB in general is it’s bringing them together.”
All of the girls on the regionals team, dubbed the “Fantastic Readers,” cite their time hanging out with their friends after school while preparing for the competition as one of their favorite things about OBOB.
Team member Charity Olson has read “11 or 12” books and said reading them was hard, but fun. Her favorite book so far is Doorbuster by Catherine Marsh, “because it has a lot of fantasy and it takes place where my adopted sister was born.” She is quick to rattle off the Russian words she’s learned along the way. She said students should join OBOB because, “it will help them get better at reading and speaking in front of people.”
Ava Freeman has read nine books so far and said, “it’s really fun.” When it comes to competing, she likes “being with her friends” and said other students should join because, “it’s really fun reading books, especially if they’re award winning authors.”
Devon Mason has read ten books on the list. Her favorite book so far is called Wild Wings. “It’s about these people that are trying to save an Osprey that lives on the farm and nobody knows about it until somebody spoils the secret,” Olson said. “It’s interesting and it takes place somewhere that I’ve actually been.” She said she’s learned about mysteries and animals.
Madelyn Hancock said she wanted to join OBOB because, “I like reading books and I like reading new books,” but she has no clue how many books she’s read so far. She also likes competing because she gets to spend time with her friends and her favorite book is about magic.
D’Aye Davidson said, “I like being with my friends and I love reading and I always have, and I still read books out of OBOB.” So far she has read four of the OBOB books, but outside she said she has read, “too many to count.” She said she’s learned from the book The Red Pencil to, “always try and try again to get what you need to get, becaue there was a big storm and they had to leave their home to go somewhere else and it took hard work.” She is looking forward to the regional battle because she knows some of the kids on the other teams and wants to cheer them on, too.