Readers are winners at Battle of the Books

Published 9:02 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

The children had done their homework. They read the books over and over and were quizzed thoroughly to prepare for Saturday night. More than 100 people gathered to see the teams put their heads together to come up with the answers.

Then, after crossing their fingers and toes for good luck, the points were tallied, and Butts Road Intermediate School of Chesapeake was named No. 1 overall.

“It’s amazing,” according to Butts Road Intermediate fifth-grader Noor Swanson, 11. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

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Butts Roads Intermediate took first place in the second annual Southside Battle of the Books finale held on Saturday at North Suffolk Library. Suffolk’s Driver Elementary School placed second and Great Bridge Intermediate of Chesapeake placed third. The students also received certificates, medals and gift cards.

Each team consisted of five fifth-graders from each school. Suffolk’s Oakland Elementary School and Portsmouth’s John Tyler and Churchland Elementary School also participated. This was the first year that Portsmouth Public Schools participated in the competition.

“It’s a great regional partnership between the three cities to come together and instill a love for reading,” said Jennifer Brown, youth and family services manager with Suffolk Public Library.

Like last year, 10 books were chosen for fifth-graders to read this year, ranging from non-fiction to science fiction. Students were tested on key details from each story in a game show-style competition.

“I read each book at least 10 times,” said Butts Road Intermediate fifth-grader Ethan Singh, 11.

Preliminary competitions in February had narrowed the list down to the top six teams for the Saturday finale. All that stood between the children and the trophy were 40 questions.

The teams had just 60 seconds to remember the name of Nya’s sister in the historical fiction “A Long Walk to Water” by author Linda Sue Park. Students spoke in hushed whispers as they considered what color Maya’s pants were in the graphic novel “Ghosts.”

They got one point for writing the correct colors from an “In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse” dream sequence on their small dry-erase boards, and another for the name of the weekly Langley employee newsletter from “Hidden Figures.”

“They knew answers to things that I couldn’t even remember were in the books,” said Butts Roads Intermediate librarian Ginny Harris, who coached the team alongside Media Specialist Cheryl Best. “They were very detail-oriented.”

The fifth-graders laughed as they huddled together to figure out the answers.

“Some of us had interesting things to say,” laughed Butts Road Intermediate fifth-grader Natalie Lanter, 11.

Suffolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth library staff congratulated the 30 young readers. They also received praise from Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson, who presented the trophy.

“An exciting part of all this is realizing how much you all learned along the way,” Johnson told the young participants.