After 22 years as principal at Madison School, Mindy McMahon had a new experience Feb. 4.
For the first time since Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 began its Battle of the Books event 13 years ago, McMahon watched the team from her school win the top prize.
Fourth-graders Elise Gillman, Elise Lannert, Colette Conway and Lauren Peters finished as the top team when District 181’s seven elementary schools competed at Oak School.
“I’m so proud of them,” McMahon said with a huge smile on her face. “They’re very well-read. They listened closely and were prepared.”
Teams representing each of the seven competing schools were at the district competition by virtue of winning Battle of the Books competitions at their own schools.
Battle of the Books tests students’ knowledge of 18 books chosen by media resource directors at the competing schools. Participating students read the chosen titles and meet at their schools to prepare for the contest.
“It’s a friendly sense of competition,” said Kevin Russell, assistant superintendent of learning.
“What I really like about Battle of the Books is how much extra reading takes place out of the language arts curriculum,” he said. “It’s a great way for students to experience more books. They do put quite a bit of time into this, but they have fun with it.”
Walker School fifth-grader Ben Newton said introduced him to new books.
““I do really like to read, but I would have no idea what to read without this,” he said.
Members of the winning Madison School team didn’t hold back on showing their feelings after being announced as the winners.
“Team work is so important, and we really trust each other,” said Elise Lannert. “Even if you get a question wrong, it’s OK because we’re still friends.”
Elise Gillman said close attention was important to winning.
“It can be hard to remember things, but just staying focused helps to get the right answers,” she said.
Preparing for Battle of the Books is a great way to learn to stay focused, said Michelle Woodring, director of Walker School’s Media Resource Center.
“It’s obviously great for kids who like to read, but it also helps them to really focus on paying attention to what they’re reading, and they also learn about teamwork and to speak up,” she said