Battling Out The Books, Darter Style

Battle of the Books is a club-like battle, in which “students are given the opportunity to read the 15 teen reads that are assigned by the state of Florida. They read them and then do a book talk, similar to a book club thing,” informs Ms. Willard, the Battle of the Books sponsor here at APK. The members will then have to answer questions related to the book, almost like a quiz. This year, Apopka’s Battle of the Books has been fantastic. We are “prepping for the final battle, which is when we go against other schools and they ask basic recall questions on the books that they read,” says Ms. Willard. In order for the members to prepare for this upcoming battle “we use a program called Battle Questions, which is basically a computer based program and there are a couple different games on there that we’ll play during our club meetings, or they can play on their own individually to gain points. I can only take 6 to the competition, so the points there help me select the top 6, along with participation during clubs and things like that.” Ms. Willard not only gives us information on how she picks who battles it out and how her members train, but also how the final battle is scored.

Now, for the students’ outlook on the battle and their goals set for winning. Destini Courtney, one of the six going into the final battle said, “My goal was to exceed 4th place in the district I got last year and to enjoy good books with good people.” Destini also recommended her favorite book she had to read and the relatable themes within the book she really enjoyed “Legendborn as it went deep into the legend of king Arthur with a twist of magic, my favorite fairytale, but It also had a black female main character that I could relate to, I also liked that it didn’t shy away from acknowledging the racism from the time period of the tale of king Arthur and how that racism still exist to this day.” The books tend to have a lot of relatable “teen themes” as Ms. Willard explains. Another student that had competed in the previous battle leading up to this final battle is Olivia Young. Olivia enjoys focussing on uplifting everyone and hoping to make it to the final battle saying, “Our goal was to work as a team and get as many questions right as we could. We made sure to celebrate each point, and also to uplift one another when we missed some. Of course we hoped to earn our place in the top two to make it into finals, but through the competition, we simply took it one point at a time.” Olivia provides a team goal and an upheld mindset to support her team as they lead into the final battle.

The Battle of the Books team in their most recent battle

The final battle against Timber Creek will occur on April 27th. In the last battle Apopka tied with Timber Creek placing us in 2nd place and into the final battle. A lot of preparing went into this battle, having to read almost all 15 books assigned. Sam Holtslander, another participant in the last battle, shares how often they read to prepare for this battle, “I don’t know the exact amount of time I spent reading this year, but I do know that literally every chance I got, I read. Right when I got done with my homework after school, I read. In class, when I was fully done with all my work, I read. Even on the weekends, I read.” Sam wasn’t the only member to spend majority of their time reading, Destini said she spent “a good half of the school year reading” and how she “reads 3 to 4 chapters a day.” Olivia however used her reading as a way of leaisure to “unwind” when she gets home, she will read at school if she is “super invested in the story.” With the final battle coming up, best of luck is wished to The Battle of the Books and hopes that Apopka will win!

Below are the list of books assigned this year:

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin Whye

Fable by Adrienne Young

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X

They Went Left by Monica Hesse

This Is My America by Kim Johnson

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

War and Speech by Don Zolidis

We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

What I Carry by Jennifer Longo