Battle of the Books: Reading for Sport


First place team: Summit Larson, Kevin Guo, Max Erickson, and Nicole Robb.

On February 9th, all high schools in the Anchorage School District came together to compete for the intense Battle of the Books (BoB) district competition. West High School competed with two teams of four, one team composed of Summit Larson, Kevin Guo, Max Erickson, and Nicole Robb with the other team including Vi Bowie, Hayoung Kim, Alex Walukiewicz, and Hodaka Meada.

Vi Bowie, Hayoung Kim, Alex Walukiewicz, and Hodaka Meada at Battle of the Books.

After a heated three rounds, one of West’s teams successfully pulled first place, barely edging out Eagle River by six points. The ending score totaled 378 points, missing only one question over the entirety of the battle. The other team pulled off an impressive third place, falling only slightly behind Eagle River. Our first place team consisting of Summit Larson, Kevin Guo, Max Erickson, and Nicole Robb will be competing at the state Battle of the Books competition on the 27th of February.

To start with the most obvious question, what is Battle of the Books? BoB is a competitive reading comprehension contest where each team reads ten books from a given list. In February, the 16 teams from various schools get together and answer a series of questions each starting with the phrase “in which book…?” BoB holds competitions starting at the third grade level and ranging through high school. The competitive aspect and set list of books promotes reading to kids and allows them to experience a variety of literature. Erickson says, “it got me to read books I wouldn’t have read otherwise.”

Aside from the enriching literary environment, Battle of the Books also promotes a sense of community for the students. Guo says, “It’s also very fun to praise the books we like, roast the ones we don’t like, and have people actively agree with you.” By promoting discussion and community, BoB has become a safe space for many of these students.

In order to prepare for the competition, our Battle of the Books teams have been meeting weekly during lunch. Whether it be memorizing titles and authors, answering practice questions, or even just discussing the books, there is always some way to prepare for the contest. A new strategy this year has been students creating their own questions to quiz the other members with. One benefit they found was that topics from the student created questions could pop up during the district competition.

One new development in Battle of the Books this year has been the change in the coach. For many years, longtime West-Romig librarian Staci Cox has run the BoB program, both for Romig and West. However, this year Allison South took over the West High division of the club. It has been an adjustment for both the members and South, but not an unwelcome change. In fact, many of the team members have enjoyed the direction of South and she is ecstatic.

For anyone interested in becoming a part of the Battle of the Books community at West, South is almost always available for questions in room W-4. The BoB list for the 2023-24 school year is likely to be posted around late March and will be available on the Battle of the Books website. All the current team members encourage anyone who is interested to go for it! If you’re open-minded and feeling bookish, Battle of the Books is always accepting. And who knows? Maybe you could follow in the footsteps of this year’s team and be our next winner.