Hagerstown, MD – November 2023 marks the 37th year that the Washington County Free Library has held its annual Battle of the Books competition. Children in grades 4-6, along with a sponsoring adult, are invited to form teams from across the county to participate in this literary event.
The program has evolved over time, but its goal remains the same: to provide great books to kids and create positive reading experiences that will last a lifetime. The library’s Youth Services Department staff has selected books that will excite kids to read, inspire creativity, and engage in a friendly competition.
The library issues a set of 15 books to registered teams of four to eight children in grades 4-6. The same books are used for all teams. Teams must have an adult team manager who is responsible for arranging transportation to and from rounds, turning in team projects, and encouraging their teams. Forming teams is up to individual schools or parents as the library does not form teams. Team managers must either be Washington County residents or have a Washington County Library card. Registration runs through the month of November.
Teams have from November until late February to read the books and complete a book-related project. A written round is held on the last Saturday in February. The scores from the submitted projects and the written round score are totaled. Then, the top eight teams advance to a final competition held on the second Saturday in March (with the first and third Saturdays of March as snow dates).
Every child who participates receives a new paperback book and a certificate of participation. Teams that advance to the final round receive medals for their achievement.
Books chosen for the Battle include Newbery Award and Honor books, Maryland’s Black-Eyed Susan Award books, popular fiction, classics, and books that exhibit a unique perspective on the world.
2024 Battle of the Books List
1. Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone
2. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
3. Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder
4. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
5. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
6. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
7. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
8. Ungifted by Gordon Korman
9. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
10. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare
11. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
12. Bob by Wendy Mass
13. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
14. The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo
15. Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Teams may register at any library in the Washington County Free Library system during the month of November. For more information about the Battle of the Books, contact Jeff Ridgeway at the Alice Virgnia and David W. Fletcher Library at 301-739-3250.