Friday, March 4, 2016

Battle of the Books: Year One

A few months ago, Adelaide was asked by a teacher to participate in Battle of the Books.  We had no idea what this was, but it was explained to us that it's a quiz bowl-type competition where you read a list of books chosen by the sponsoring library, then show up with your team to answer questions about them.  Now, it's true that it's supposed to only be for fifth and sixth graders, but we all agreed that although she was younger, this was right up Adelaide's alley, and in the end signed off on her competing with the fifth graders.

Adelaide got the list, read the books, and remained exasperatingly calm about the whole thing, even yesterday morning, mere hours before the competition started.  I'd repeatedly asked her if she wanted me to quiz her or help her review or anything, and every time she brushed me off with a nonchalant, "No, thanks."  People, she didn't even make flashcards.  I would have seriously questioned whether or not we were biologically related if it weren't for that whole childbirth thing.

So, yesterday afternoon, Derek and his parents and the boys and I trooped over to the Big Town library to watch upwards of 100 fifth grade readers answer bookish questions.  Adelaide arrived with her three equally adorable fifth-grade-girl teammates.  She seemed excited.

Those girls whipped through the first two rounds like little nerd-girl dervishes, and qualified for the third and final round with the only perfect score.  It was exciting, and nerve-wracking, and so fun for Adelaide.  Youth sports are big around here, but academic competitions?  Not so much.  At four years old you can be in Tiny Person Baseball and Tiny Person Soccer and Tiny Person Tae Kwon Do, but there are no spelling bees or math competitions, not much of anything that strives to combine academic pursuits with a sense of healthy competition or fun for children.  Our little town library works hard to put on a good summer reading program, but the other nine months of the year?  Best of luck to you.

Excuse me.  I am afflicted with very strong opinions on this subject.

Back to yesterday's Battle:  I'm sad to say the final round is where things went south for our little team.  They had the misfortune to draw two different year-related questions, my heart sinking each time they were read, before the girls even had a chance to answer.  Are there people out there who pay attention to years in the books they read?  I could tell you the minutest of details about the items a character packs in their suitcase for a short trip, but what year that took place?  No idea.  It would seem that our four girls are much the same, as while they did take wild stabs at answering, they were way off, and obviously had no idea as to the correct answer.  Bad luck, indeed, but overall, it was still a fun event, and although Adelaide was a little disappointed when it was all over (FOUR HOURS LATER), she was more philosophical about the experience than anything else.  

We treated her to a cheeseburger and chocolate shake afterward, and by the time we'd reached home she was already talking about next year and how she'll be closer to the age of her fellow participants (she said most of the kids she talked to were eleven, which, at this point, still feels so much older than her nine years of age), and musing about ways to talk her teacher into letting her pick the team next year.  For my part, I now know to bring plenty of snacks, and perhaps a little stress ball, something to worry in my pocket so I don't cut off circulation to Derek's hand each time our little girl (bravely, valiantly, brilliantly) stands up to answer a question for her team.  

See?  We all learned something yesterday.


  1. so fun for Adelaide!!!! I would not do well....comprehension not my strong suit

  2. She is going to LOVE scholar's bowl.

  3. I'm so proud!!!!! Makes me think of how sitting though the city spelling bee when you girls were young was so nerve wracking for me.

  4. This is such a great idea! Emma experienced geography and spelling bees, but I've never heard of this kind of "bee". She and I used to practice for the geography bee (she had to participate in school), and it always seemed so hopeless --the questions could be about literally anywhere and I didn't feel there was any hope of properly preparing. But to read a list of books and see which details you can remember --that sounds like so much more fun!

  5. I think my oldest might have participated in a Battle of the Books, but for some reason I didn't participate with him. (And I even keep a worry rock in my coat pocket for such occasions!)
    My brain, however, is a sieve and cannot be trusted to retain complete information.

  6. Bravo to Adelaide! I admire people who can keep their cool during things like this.

  7. How fun! (not for you as the parent watching, of course, but for her!) She'll have to wait a few more years for spelling bees, math bees, math counts, academiathons. . .(I might have been a nerd-girl too!)


Studies show that that people who leave comments are kind, intelligent, generous, creative, and have really nice hair.