Behind the Scenes at the Battle of the Books

It’s a record year for ICS student participation in the Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS) reading challenge known as the Battle of the Books. Approximately 60 pupils from our Grades 6 - 8 have joined up to participate in this annual educational and convivial reading contest.

Battle of the BooksThe International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) courses in literature provide students with a wide variety of text types, writing styles and techniques to engage their innate curiosity and promote creativity. The annual SGIS “Battle of the Books” is a wonderful reading incentive activity accented by competitive fun. ICS participants have proved to be real rockstars, having won a substantial number of the Battles over the years.

As is customary, the teams began forming in October and currently stand at 15 total! The SGIS organising committee selected eight books for every team to read; not all students read all books necessarily, but as a team they do. Works are selected based on date published (generally only recent works), and on appropriateness for Middle School students in terms of context and content, as well as Lexile level. The books should represent a variety of world views. Best-selling works, and those sourced by rating agencies or Goodreads, for example, are typically selected. The youngsters are able to choose their preferred format – audiobook, eBook, Kindle or print.

Participants initially meet to brainstorm on team name and design a team logo. ICS Library staff assist in printing the creative concepts on T-shirts. Another keepsake is the colourful laminated button badges, denoting which book was read in its entirety.

Lively group challenges called “Kahoot”, and individual quizzes are submitted to staff and weekly book discussions round out the November and December activities. Over time, a panel of ICS teachers and librarians narrow down the teams to a final tally of three to four participants in one team. They then vie against other schools in the competition final. All are looking forward to our school hosting the Battle of the Books inter-school challenge finals on 9 March 2022. It is hoped that the assorted school teams will be able to meet in-person while adhering to Covid precautionary measures.

So many books, so little time. ― Frank Zappa

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