Battle of the Books becomes popular event

A team of fifth-graders from Dayton Oaks Elementary won the county's third annual Battle of the Books this month.

The quiz show-style contest, which tests fifth-graders' knowledge of 15 books, has become somewhat of a big deal in Howard County. More than 1,500 people attended the contest at Atholton High School on April 23, up from last year's 1,000 attendees.

"It's grown considerably," said Andrea Misner, publicity specialist for the Howard County Library, which sponsors the event. "The first year, there were about 60 teams. This year there were 83."

The Dayton Oaks team, "Time Capsule," which was coached by Michelle Barajas and made up of students Jonathan Barajas, Nicholas Baronowsky, Christina Kratameier, Jessica Lawson and Jacob Parker, won first place. The team scored 100 out of a possible 108 points.

Each first-place team member received a medal and a $20 gift certificate to Borders. The top team also received a poster featuring their photograph, and the winning team's school received a trophy.

The second-place team, "Knights of the Reading Table" from Manor Woods Elementary, won medals and $15 gift certificates. The third-place team, "Wacky Tacky Readers" from Triadelphia Ridge Elementary, also won medals and $10 gift certificates.

Misner compares the competition to an old television game show. Trivia questions are based on a variety of aspects of the books, including detailed information such as illustrations, quotes and the book cover art. The questions and books were chosen by a team of area librarians. The books included "A Wrinkle in Time" and "The Scrambled States of America."

In addition to the prize for the trivia competition, there were also honors for best costume and team name. Best team name went to "Blue Bookaneers" from Longfellow Elementary. The team spirit award was won by "The One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Purple Book Readers" from Pointers Run Elementary School. The civility award went to "Cradlerock Survivors" from Cradlerock School. "Rockin' Roller Derby Readers" from Clemens Crossing won best costume.

"It encourages kids to read," said Kelli Shimabukuro, community education and partnerships coordinator for the Howard County Library. "We find there are equal amounts of boys and girls who participate. The competition encourages teamwork. It gives them exposure to different types of books that they might not read on their own. They enjoy the competition and representing their school."

Misner added: "It's just great seeing the kids so excited about reading. I don't think there was a team not in costume. They really put their full spirit in the competition. It's just an incredible event."

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