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Battle of the Books rages on
Young readers match wits in competition
Books WEB 1
The Golden Readers, from left, Katie Jenkins, Aly Dekroon, Laura Kelley and Jordan Sul talk over a question. The group went on to win the Battle of the Books on Tuesday. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Hailey Coyne read 10 books three times each to ensure she didn’t miss any details. She knew all the characters, plot lines and settings.

After working “really, really, really, really hard,” Coyne was prepared to represent her third-grade team from Kelly Mill Elementary during the annual Battle of the Books on Tuesday. But she was up against some fierce competition.

And in the end, the Golden Readers from Haw Creek Elementary, which played host to the annual event, took the overall title, with the Book Gladiators from Daves Creek Elementary finishing first among the third-graders.

The Battle of the Books began about four years ago with just two schools, said competition coordinator Christi Phillips. Tuesday’s systemwide event featured 10 schools.

The competition pits two teams against each other to answer questions about dozens of books, with bonus points given for knowing the author.

The top two teams — one made up of third graders and the other of fourth- and fifth-graders — from each participating school competed in the event.

“Kids are psyched about coming to the county competition ... the caliber of competitors is really high,” Phillips said. “Just in our school, around 2,000 books have been read because of this program. That’s saying a lot there.

“What’s really cool is that they’re reading books they wouldn’t have chosen maybe off a shelf and they’re becoming their favorite books. So now they’re learning to love other kinds of books.”

Phillips, like the other teachers from Haw Creek was clad in her finest witching attire, playing into the “Harry Potter” theme for Tuesday’s battle.

Julie Kelley was a judge at the school-level competition. Tuesday, however, she attended as both a teacher and mother, supporting daughter Laura and the Golden Readers.

“I’m here as a parent and it’s so exciting,” she said. “I’m a nervous wreck.”

Kristy Sul also was there in support of the Golden Readers and her daughter, Jordan. Sul had played an active role as the team’s coach, holding study sessions and even a sleepover for the girls.

“They have chosen not to go to other parties ... they’ve missed out on games just to get together to study for the competition. That’s how important it is to them,” Sul said.

“The fact that they’re reading and doing something educational and are enjoying it and having fun, it’s just a wonderful competition for them.”