What does the phrase “battle of the books” mean to you? If you envisioned something resembling a snowball fight, but with literature as a substitute projectile, you may be disappointed. It is actually more like a quiz bowl for local middle and high school students. On March 3rd, Gannon will be hosting the Battle of the Books competition for the second consecutive year. During our Spring break, the second and third floors of the A.J. Palumbo Center are expected to be occupied by nearly five hundred local children. These bookworms have been preparing diligently to compete in what is essentially the Super Bowl for young readers.
The “battles” are much more civilized than the word suggests. Two teams will meet in a room with moderators and answer a list of questions about the books they have read. The questions are actually created by Gannon students who have volunteered their time to read the books to help make this event a success. During the long day of intellectual skirmishes, the students will be treated to lunch on campus. Then, in the afternoon, the award ceremonies will be held for the winners of each division. The prize for the division champions is a very fitting Barnes and Noble gift card.
Dr. Leighann Forbes, one of Gannon’s illustrious education professors, has been working alongside North East High School for the past two years to put on this special event. Dr. Forbes comments that unlike the academic sports league, this competition “focuses only on reading enjoyment.” She also points out that even though the competitive nature of the event can cause stress, students have a good time with their like-minded opposition. Forbes notes although there is no award for this category, teams create t-shirts and will each have names, such as “The Plot Twisters.” Battle of the Books is certainly a great experience for these prose prodigies.
In addition to recreational entertainment, reading from a young age is extremely important for the future. Forbes remarks that “employers are looking for people who can read beyond the current level of most high school graduates.” In the ever-changing job market, one skill that has been overlooked is reading comprehension.
Dr. Forbes reminisced about her younger days, saying that she “was a huge reader and would’ve loved to be involved, but the opportunity wasn’t there.” I could see Dr. Forbes’ inner child peering through her eyes as she showed me her copy of her favorite book as a middle-school student, Black Stallion by Walter Farley. She has certainly passed on her reading genes to her daughter, who is a book captain at Fort LeBoeuf High School as well as a reigning division champion of Battle of the Books.
If you would like to volunteer to help out on March 3rd, contact Dr. Forbes at Forbes001@gannon.edu.