Franklin hosts 'Battle of the Books'


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  • Photo by Scott Baker Separate teams of fifth and sixth grade Franklin Borough students vie for first place.




  • Photo by Scott Baker The Lafayette Township School fifth- and sixth-grade team discusses an answer.




  • Photo by Scott Baker Ogdensburg Elementary School students score big with a correct answer.



First Place Winners

Third Grade: Hilltopp Country Day School
Fourth Grade: Franklin Borough Elementary School
Fifth Grade: Lafayette Township School
Sixth Grade: Pequannock
Seventh- and Eighth-Grade: Franklin Borough

More than 40 teams of students from eight area schools competed to be Battle of the Books champions at Franklin Borough Elementary School on Thursday, May 29.

This is Franklin’s ninth year hosting the multi-district battle, which is a part of a nationwide literacy and reading incentive program. Since its inception, participation has risen from three schools to eight, now including Franklin, Ogdensburg, Frankford, Lafayette, Newton Halsted, Hilltop Country Day, McKeown and Pequannock.

Students compete by grade level, but are broken into three divisions: third and fourth grades, fifth and sixth grades, and seventh and eighth grades. Each competition level is responsible for 15 age-appropriate books, which are chosen each year by a state committee. Points are awarded to teams that correctly identify the title and author of a book after being asked a specific plot question.

“Questions are specific to each book, but with a lot of detail,” said Franklin School librarian and event emcee Sandy Bargiel.

The questions also are chosen by the state committee and are not available for study before the competition. They are designed to test the specific-detail retention of the competitors. Bargiel said the Franklin third- and fourth-graders, who haven’t had an opportunity to participate in past events, were especially surprised at the difficulty.

“It’s a team effort,” Bargiel said, but each member of the five-person team is expected to become an expert in three books and work cooperatively when questions are read. The groups are mixed by reading level, and each of the teams had at least one student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

“One of our special education kids was an especially strong team member, reading 12 of the 15 books,” Bargiel added.

Win or lose, Bargiel says Battle of the Books has a lasting effect on participants.

“The kids are so proud that they accomplished something,” she said. “Some of these kids can’t compete in anything else — kids who love reading should have a competition, too.”

In future years, Bargiel hopes to grow the event even more.

“This was the first year I did a full-blown campaign,” she said. “Hopefully next year we get a lot more competition.”


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