Voting in my first ever March Madness Battle of the Books was fast and furious. The students kept nudging one another, "suggesting" books for voting.
The battle is underway between 32 books, chosen from the "top ten" lists of fourth and fifth grade readers across four elementary schools. The other two teachers and I instruct gifted learners, and wanted a way to give them reason to share and read the book recommendations from other schools.
My third graders, though, were none to happy that they wouldn't be included in this event. I'm a sucker, so I set up an entirely separate battle for just my own school. I'll admit to being curious about the differences that would emerge. I know teachers make a difference in the books that students read over the course of the year. Would my own preferences, and the recommendations I've spread through "book talks" be reflected in the choices made in my school?
Hobbit over Mark of Athena
Eye of the Storm over Almost Astronauts
Goblet of Fire over Sorcerer's Stone
Mysterious Benedict Society over Chasing Vermeer
The Name of this Book is Secret over Horton Halfpott (though in my school our Tom Angleberger fandom made this a MUCH closer race. Our numbers were 19 to 18 as opposed to 41 to 18)
A Wrinkle in Time over Hugo Cabret
Code Talker over The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (many of my fifth graders read Code Talker on their own after seeing it on the brackets)
Strange Case of Origami Yoda over Leviathan
The One and Only Ivan over Fablehaven
Stargirl over A Mango-Shaped Space
The Westing Game over The Ranger's Apprentice book 1
Lions of Little Rock over The Wide Window
Capture the Flag over The BFG (This one was a bigger blow out in my building than in the 4 school contest)
The ones that were different:
There were only three that had different outcomes in my school as compared to the four school battle.
The Last Olympian vs The Lightning Thief -
Both races were relatively close. I don't think this one really reflected any big differences between the schools.
--At my school Last Olympian won 23-16. Overall Lightning Thief ousted Last Olympian 32-27.
Wonder vs Holes
The four school vote put Holes ahead. My students freaked when they saw that. Wonder is a book I book talked AND the guidance counselor has been reading it to 3rd and 4th graders during special read aloud times.
--At my school, Wonder beat Holes 26 to 9. Overall, Holes won 38 to 21.
The Phantom Tollbooth vs. Amulet 3
This was definitely reflective of building culture. One of my colleagues said she had a student comment that he wasn't sure why Amulet was even in the brackets. My love for comics (which is recent!) shows up in a classroom library filled with graphic novels.
--At my school Amulet 3 beat Tollbooth 26-13 (and my third graders had just finished Phantom Tollbooth!) Overall, Phantom Tollbooth won 31-28.
The impact so far:
Students are checking on the "battle wall" every time they come into the room. They are requesting books from the battles - books that they wouldn't have read otherwise. The fact that many of the top 32 came from other school choices means that they are being exposed to more than just MY book talks... which is a lovely thing. It's also gratifying to see that they honestly love the books that I've suggested to them this year.
On to the Sweet Sixteen!
I'm participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by the amazing educators at Two Writing Teachers. Stop by to see what others are posting!
Also - if you stop by and comment, and you are also slicing - PLEASE feel free to include your URL in the comments. With over 200 people slicing, it is often hard to go find your specific link on the Two Writing Teachers page, and I'd love to come read YOUR slice too!