Battle of the Books encourages students to read through March Madness-like competition


Apart from checking books in and out, Dora Fowler does so much more as a media materials clerk. One task she works to complete is inspiring a drive to read throughout school. Along with media materials clerk Monica Noonan, the pair is constantly working towards motivating more reading through special events in school.

The latest of these events is FHC March Madness: Battle of the Books. FHC’s second annual Battle of the Books begins Monday, March 13th and will continue until Wednesday, March 29th. The aim of this fun event is to stimulate reading through entertaining contests in a very similar system to March Madness. To encourage participation, prizes for winning students are even on offer.

March is recognized as National Reading Month. In order to further promote reading, Fowler and Noonan utilized the popularity of March Madness as a way to set up a reading event.

“Most kids are more familiar with March Madness and the basketball brackets,” Fowler said. “We thought that was a good way to draw them in. It’s just like talking about March Madness, but we’re talking about books instead.”

Chris Patrick works alongside Fowler and Noonan as a teacher librarian. He is responsible for weeding out old books, as well as selecting new ones and maintaining the library’s book collection. Patrick gave Fowler and Noonan feedback on the books they had selected for Battle of the Books.

Battle of the Books is just another way to generate interest in all of the great titles available to our readers,” Patrick said. “It gives students a platform from which they can express their reading preferences. Plus, it’s fun.”

The event itself works in a very similar way to March Madness. On the whiteboard in the media center, a large main bracket has been put up. 16 of the Media Center’s most popular books this year were chosen. These books were randomly paired, making a bracket identical to one of basketball. However, student participation is vital to advance the event.

“Students have the chance to fill up and turn in their own bracket,” Fowler said. “You fill out the books that you think are the most popular. You can fill it out based on whether you’ve read and liked it, if there’s a movie [adaptation] coming out soon, or even if you just like that author. Some people have a personal favorite they want to go all the way to the end.”

We still have kids that come in every day and pick up books. They are still passionate about reading. We’re trying to promote this spirit and encourage kids to read more for pleasure.

— Dora Fowler

Based on the votes from the initial brackets that were turned in, Fowler and Noonan will narrow it down to the final eight books. Ballots containing the final eight books will be printed and offered to students. After counting the ballots, they will be narrowed down to the final four books. Students can continue to cast votes every few days, for the final two books, and then finally for the winning book.

There are several ways for students to win prizes, namely Barnes & Noble gift cards. The student who turns in the bracket with the most correct outcomes will receive a $20 gift card. However, even if you don’t turn a bracket in, there are other ways you could win a prize. Each time the choices are narrowed down, two ballots will be selected from all the ballots cast. These two winners will receive $10 gift cards each. This gives students three more opportunities to win prizes.

Senior Zoe Stockreef has been helping in the Media Center since her sophomore year. This year, she aided the media materials clerks by giving a student’s perspective to their ideas for Battle of the Books.

“The Battle of the Books will get people to read and explore what good books there were this year,” Zoe said. “Even if you don’t fill out a bracket, you can still vote. It’s a good way to get people to participate and see what’s available. It’s always fun to be chosen as the winner and get prizes.”

Participating in the Battle of the Books is as easy as filling up a bracket or voting for your favorite book. Involvement in the event might even expand your current knowledge about books as you discover new, popular books and genres.

“It’s just a fun activity for everyone to participate in,” Fowler said. “It highlights that the Media Center is still relevant in school today. We still have kids that come in every day and pick up books. They are still passionate about reading. We’re trying to promote this spirit and encourage kids to read more for pleasure.”