Battle of the Books: Reading as a Team Sport
I have four kids, three girls and a boy. They’re all adults now, so I guess they’re not kids any more. They’re all visual learners and did well in school, but having a boy was different than our three girls. He was active, imaginative, athletic and more interested in doing than reading and getting him to sit still and read was always a challenge. There were times I thought I might have to duct tape him to a chair to get him to be still long enough to read. Fortunately our school saved us both. They had a ‘Battle of the Books’ Team.
Battle of the Books, BOB, was organized by the school, and had two teacher sponsors. They were the kind of teachers that knew how to make learning fun.
There was a reading list of 50 books that kids started on over the summer and into fall. After qualifying to make the team, the group of 8 to 10 kids, usually fifth and sixth graders, met once a week over lunch, all through the school year. They divided up the list of books, read more, quizzed each other, practiced drills and worked as a team to master the learning. In the spring, the kids wore their cool embroidered team sweatshirts, to competitions with other schools at local libraries.
Battle of the Books was a big deal at their school. The kids on the team were respected and admired, and they got a lot of reading done. Here are some of the reasons it worked and why it’s a great way to get your visual kid reading more:
Shared experience. Shared responsibility
Reading 50 books is a pretty big challenge for any kid, and even harder if you have a visual learner. Doing it as a team made it a lot less intimidating. Being part of a team helps them want to do it, if not for the sake of reading, they do it for the team.
Read. Talk. Play. Remember.
The best kind of learning happens when kids experience the material in several different ways. This team approach had the kids reading, making note cards, talking about books as a group and playing games to remember. And best of all it was fun.
Makes Reading Social
Visual kids are social kids. Which would you prefer? Go to your room and read – by yourself – night after night. Or – read so you can hang out with your friends at lunch tomorrow. The added social aspect was a huge motivator.
Participating in team sports is about community, shared goals and healthy competition. A team sets goals as a group but each member of the team has to do their part for the team to be successful. Kids still have to do their part, but there’s a little less pressure with a healthy way to set and meet performance expectations.
Being on reading team, let’s you be a hero. You get to win medals and applause from the crowd. How often does that happen for visual kids – especially for reading?! Yes, we are supposed to read for the joy of reading, but cheers and medals are a great motivator and can create momentum for success as reader.
All four of our kids participated in BOB. Our son did it to uphold the family tradition and without it, I’m pretty sure he’d never have read those 50 books. Battle of the Books made reading and learning a fun filled, competitive team sport. Your school may or may not have a BOB team but maybe they’re ready to start one. Or maybe there are other ways you can make reading a shared event.