Rockford Public Schools has a strong sense of tradition. A tradition that has continued is the academic competition of the Battle of the Books. The Battle of the Books is a 5th-grade reading competition that places students from Rockford Public Schools, as well as O.L.C. and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on teams of eight to answer questions about books they have read throughout their 5th-grade year. This year was no different in the approach to forming the teams. The ten elementary school librarians, along with the 5th-grade teachers, do their best to promote the reading of the twenty Battle books. All students have a chance to read the ten books needed to try out for the team. After Christmas break, the students completed four rounds of questions at their home schools related to the books they personally have read.

This year we had over 200 students from across the district try out. Once the competition with the home school is complete, 80 students compose the ten teams vying for Battle of Books glory with a Grand Battle at Rockford Public School’s Central Office. This is an experience that they may never forget!

Our students, parents, teachers, librarians, schools, and those who also work to make this event a success were prepared for January 25, our Grand Battle day. Students spent the prior two weeks reviewing, strategizing, making t-shirts, and working on teamwork strategies to reach the pinnacle of success.

Snow day! Most students love to see this scroll across the television or to wake up later than expected. Battle of the Books team members, however, do not. With some fast thinking and the help of the district, we planned a second date. Snow Day! We scrambled, called, and again worked with everyone to get the third date. Snow Day!  With the unprecedented weather we experienced, we found ourselves questioning what we had done wrong. We were prepared for everything. We rewrote the Battle for a two-hour delay, a half day, held at a different venue, and finally a digital version. We would not be defeated.

A fourth time is a charm! The students within Rockford School District participated in the 28th annual Battle of the Books on a sunny 39-degree day! The students were ready, the competition was fierce, and everyone had an experience they will never forget. Congratulations to Parkside Elementary and runner up Meadow Ridge Elementary for their efforts in the finals of this awesome academic competition.

As we will reflect on this year’s Battle of the Books, and the students who participate, we are reminded to never give up, keep trying, and to create a lasting experience! Our goal is that next year, the 29th Battle of the Books, will run without a hitch! Keep Reading!

5th Grade Parkside Students, Battle of the Books Champions

Meadow Ridge students with Dr. Shibler. Adults in order from left to right. Librarian Lynn Bowen, 5th Grade Teacher Nicole Williams, Dr. Shibler, Principal Blake Bowman