May Madness

The idea of creating a ‘battle of the books’ competition during the month of March has become increasingly popular in schools in the last few years as a way to encourage reading by tying it to the frenzy surrounding the college basketball tournament. For many reasons, March wasn’t a good time so I moved it to May incorporating the program into Children’s Book Week festivities. This year during Children’s Book Week we scheduled a Scholastic Book Fair to kick off summer reading, planned a Skype author visit with Raina Telgmeier and the digital photography students created a display of new book covers using their own images photo shopped into a book cover picture. May Madness was perfect way to tie it all together. I chose 16 books for the bracket split into 2 sides. I wanted to select books that many students had read, were part of pop culture or were taught in English classes. Then I decided to use a like vs. like (in terms of genre/subjects/appeals) strategy to make the bracket challenging: Wonder vs. Out of My Mind; Drama vs. Diary of a Wimpy Kid and so on then presented the program at Morning Meeting. Students created their brackets in library classes or in their homerooms. I was surprised by how much excitement the bracket decisions created! Younger students who were new to the concept of a tournament bracket were schooled by the sports fanatics in their class. Students (and teachers alike) questioned how I could pit Hunger Games vs. Divergent! In the first round no less! Then the conversations erupted whether they should choose their favorites or the books they thought others might vote for which would improve their chances at winning. The carrot I included: selectors of perfect brackets would receive a gift certificate to purchase a book at the book fair. We voted every other day during snack/recess and when it was all over, we had 9 students with perfect brackets!



Ryan Grace as Tom Sawyer

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