In order to try and encourage more students to read, Sue Inhelder and Susan Fritzell of Marshalltown High School went in search of fun ways to get books in high schoolers' hands. Thus began the Iowa High School Battle of the Books. They hosted their first contest during the 2007-2008 school year for students in their Area Education Association, and then the expanded it to be a statewide program.
Students form teams, read books from a curated list of award-winning contemporary works and then compete in an online round of multiple choice trivia questions for the chance to compete in the Grand Battle, held at Marshalltown High School every spring. This year’s battle is coming up April 26, and Inhelder says the battle has become increasingly competitive.
“Usually there is something every year that we haven’t anticipated,” she says. “One of those things is tie breakers. Now, coming into the grand battle, there are four levels of tie breakers.”
The Iowa High School Grand Battle of the books is coming up on April 26. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Inhelder and Fritzell about the battle and how it came to be. Ann Field is a sophomore at Charles City High School. She is going into the Grand Battle in first place and says she’s been studying for the contest since late last school year.
“I really like reading, and I’m always looking for new books. So, it’s great to have this list of award winning books to choose from,” Field says. “We have five people who really work together and have our individual strengths.”
Jerri Heid, who is a youth librarian with the Ames Public Library, also joins the conversation. She helps host a battle of the books for younger readers and is working on a family battle of the books to take place later this summer.
During this hour of Talk of Iowa, we also host our own Harry Potter themed battle. Nebbe takes on Morgan Reeves of the Iowa City Public Library and Anastasia Baldus, who is a freshman at Charles City High School and one of Field’s teammates for the Iowa High School Battle of the Books Grand Battle.