Battle of the Books encourages students’ passion for reading (25 photos)

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Kienna Kulzer

Author Jonathan Auxier signs a copy of his book "Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes" at the Battle of the Books competition at DATA on Friday. Credit: Felicia Perez/The Foothill Dragon Press.
Author Jonathan Auxier signs a copy of his book “Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes” at the Battle of the Books competition at DATA on Friday. Credit: Felicia Perez/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Middle school bookworms had the chance to show off their reading knowledge in the Battle of the Books competition on Friday. 

Battle of the Books has been a part of Ventura Unified middle schools for several years. The program encourages and maintains students’ love for reading and provides them with a community that shares that passion. 
“It brings those kinds of kids together that may not have a natural connection to other people and gives them a place to be comfortable with who they are,” DATA’s project grant director Elisabeth Denger Harris said. {sidebar id=52}
Participants were given a list of 20 books at the beginning of the school year, and their knowledge of the books was put to the test at the battle. Groups of about four or five students each competed in pairs. Whoever could answer the most questions correctly moved on to the next round. 
At the end, the two remaining groups, the Imperial Readers and the Sparklers, battled it out on the stage for first place. The Imperial Readers took a quick victory, but the day was about much more than just the winners. 
It gave the participants a chance to renew their love for reading and to connect with fellow students who have that same passion. 
For students like Evan Palmisani, the year long reading program was an opportunity to get involved with the reading community. 
“[Today] has been really good,” the sixth grade student from DATA said.  “I’ve made some new friends and I saw some old ones from elementary school.” 
Like most everyone at the battle, Palmisani is an enthusiastic reader. He had multiple favorites from the book list, and immediately launched into detailed descriptions of each one. 
Before the battle began, students rotated between trivia games focused on books off their reading list and a blogging workshop led by author Jonathan Auxier. 
Auxier, an animated and goofy character, recently published his first novel, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. After hearing him talk about his book and blogging, many of the students were  excited to read about the blind thief, Peter Nimble. At lunch, a long line of students formed in the library, waiting for their copy to be signed
DATA librarian Cece Johnson thought that Auxier really contributed to the event and the students’ passion for reading.
“It’s really a lot of fun, and I think anytime the kids can be face to face with an author, especially like this one, who’s so fun…it’s so inspiring to them. It inspires them to read, to write, to think about what goes into a book. That’s big,” she said.
Harris invited Auxier to attend and was also very pleased with his positive influence on the students. 
“He was telling us that he was jealous of this program. He spoke to us about his desire to let kids know that he was like them. You know, that he was kind of an outcast, or he was kind of different,” she said. “He didn’t have anything like this, where he could kind of celebrate it and love reading and be around more friends that are like him.”

Credit: Felicia Perez/The Foothill Dragon Press

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