West Lincoln Middle School students have their noses in books.
The goal â€“ promote reading and have fun at the same time.
The Battle of the Books competition for Lincoln County is heating up. The battle will be held at 9 a.m. March 18 at North Lincoln High School between the four middle schools, West Lincoln, East Lincoln, Pumpkin Center and Lincolnton.
Students at West Lincoln have been preparing for the competition since March of last year.
â€œThe purpose is to get the students to read. Thatâ€™s what we stress,â€ said Jackie Hartman, media coordinator for the group.
At the middle school, there are nine children on the team. Practice sessions include going over possible questions that will be asked March 18. Students have been meeting at least once a week, sometimes more, to get book smart. The questions are very picky and relate to certain books.
There are 27 books on a list that students are reading from. They include popular titles such as â€œTo Kill A Mockingbirdâ€ by Harper Lee, â€œRed Scarf Girlâ€ by Ji Li Jiang and â€œSurviving the Applewhitesâ€ by Stephanie Tolan.
Samantha Smith, a seventh grader, has read 14 books so far.
â€œI like to read a lot,â€ Smith said. â€œI read half an hour a day.â€
Included on the team are six eighth-graders, two seventh-graders and one sixth-grader.
Once the county competition is complete, the winning school will advance to the regional battle which will be held in Cleveland County in April. Lincoln County is part of region six, which includes several other counties like Gaston, Cleveland and Mecklenburg.
Lincoln County has been doing Battle of the Books for three years. Pumpkin Center and West Lincoln were the first schools to get involved in the competition. In the last two years all of the middle schools have become involved.
Selena Keever, librarian at the West Lincoln library, is working very closely with the middle school to provide reading material for the competition.
â€œWe have all the books on the list and try to keep them on display and make extra copies available,â€ Keever said.
She said reading is a great way to build skills and oneâ€™s vocabulary.
â€œI like to encourage reading on that level. Elementary school kids tend to read a lot but once they are in middle school kids tend to find other interests,â€ she said. â€œI think itâ€™s important and fun to have a competition on an academic level.â€
North Carolinaâ€™s Battle of the Books started with a public radio program in Chicago in the 1940s by Ruth Harshaw. Librarians who heard the show reconstructed the game.
Michael Leonard of Illinois first introduced the contest in Onslow County when he was the librarian for the Onslow County Public Library. In 1981, the library sponsored the first North Carolina Battle of the Books contest for sixth graders.
The North Carolina Association of School Librarians then took sponsorship of Battle of the Books in 1991. In 2000, the North Carolina School Library Media Association became a co-sponsor and independent schools became a region for competition.
by Amy Wadsworth