I recently discovered The Battle of the Books competition that School Library Journal puts on every year. I don't know the ins and outs of the competition, but it basically seems to me that a group of books (in all genres but picture book) is chosen (I don't know by whom), and famous authors read two of the books and choose their favorite. There are many rounds of this, and somehow, the books are whittled down to the Big Kahuna Round where the winning author from the year before decides on this year's winner.
I actually know some of the judges from this years competition, and some of the authors of the books in the competition, so it was interesting for me to read their reasonings for choosing these books, but I got to thinking, why should adult authors be the ones deciding these things? I think somehow kids votes do come into play in the competition, but it sure seemed like Jonathan Stroud (one of my favorite authors of all time) was the one to decide between the three heavy weight contenders (two of whom are some of my favorite new books, Between Shades of Gray and Okay for Now).
Here's the link if you want to see more about the contest and see the winner:
But I got to thinking, perhaps in the Eyre house, we'll have our own Eyre Battle of the Books for the summer. We will be the judges, the books we pick will range from picture books to nonfiction to novels, and we'll whittle things down (somehow) to a big Kahuna round where our favorite book of the summer will be chosen.
I've seen lots of posts recently and emails from parents wondering how they can get their kids reading over the summer. This might be a way. As a family, draw up a list of books and have your kids help you break things down into rounds. You obviously aren't going to want your five year old reading a YA novel for their part of the rounds, but they could have an easier novel read to them as part of the competition.
I'll show both the process and the results of our family's Battle of the Books on this blog. We'll be drawing up our list this week.
Here are some places for you to find different books to present to your kids as possible options for your list:
ALA notable books of 2011
Kirkus best books of 2011
Mock Newbery Awards (voted on by kids)
NCTE orbis pictus awards (nonfiction for all ages—probably one of the best lists)
And here's an article with eleven of the best picture books of 2011 from the Atlantic
And you can look at past Battle of the Books competitions for more ideas.
So pick your books! Have a family meeting. Have the kids help you choose which books to focus on and how to divide up the rounds. Give them deadlines. Get busy and get creative. I know adding another thing to do is the last thing you need this summer, but if it gets your kids reading and it gets you reading as a family together, I think it might be worth it (Dad should totally be a part of this—many dads are completely left out of the reading that happens as a family).
I'll get my list posted in the next couple of days.
Please add some ideas of your own. How are you going to get your kids reading this summer!