Reading Riot: Favorite Titles from Battle of the Books

Posted by Aaron on

Here in Fauquier County, schools annually participate in the Battle of the Books tournament each spring. The library does its part by stocking multiple copies of the titles to keep up with the waiting list of enthusiastic young readers.

If you’re unfamiliar with BOB, it’s a motivational reading program that provides a fun challenge and encourages students to read good books. Each year, teachers and librarians select 20 outstanding books and school teams read them all.  The students then compete in the BOB tournament to test their knowledge of random facts and quotes from the books.

The 2016-2017 Battle of the Books (BOB) list for middle school has an excellent selection of newly released and “tried and true” titles. I’ve read several of these and guarantee the list offers a wide range of quality books from realistic fiction to fantasy from gripping adventure to historical fiction and non-fiction. Whether you compete in BOB or not, if you’re searching for a good book check out this list.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Fuzzy Mud by Louis SacharBook cover fuzzy-mud, kids in dark woods

Sachar is probably best known for his Wayside School series and, of course, the book and movie Holes. In “Fuzzy Mud” he tackles the environment, middle school bullying, and finding the good in others. Tamaya and Marshall have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But when a bully challenges Marshall to a fight, they take a shortcut home from school through some forbidden woods. They soon get lost and discover what looks like fuzzy mud but is actually a substance with the potential to spread an epidemic. This is a suspenseful story about resourceful young people working together to save the world.

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

This historic fiction focuses on the rise of the Berlin Wall and how its construction literally divided families in that German city for years. When the Wall went up, Gerta, her mother and her brother were trapped on the eastern side where the family lived while her father and brother were in the West. Four years later, now 12 and living in poverty and fear, Gerta sees her father on the other side of the wall. She believes he’s sending the message to tunnel beneath the wall and escape to freedom. What follows is a harrowing story of one girl’s courage and will to survive.

Echo by Pam Munoz RyanBook cover echo, kids sitting under trees at dusk

Echo, which received a Newbery Honor among other awards, might just be my favorite. It starts out reading like a fairy tale in which a boy, lost in the woods, is rescued by three enchanted sisters. They pass to him a magical harmonica which leads him home and travels across years touching the lives of other music-obsessed children. There is Freidrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania and finally Ivy in California whose stories become interwoven as the harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges and ultimately their stories converge in an amazing conclusion.

∼ Ann McDuffie, Youth Services Librarian, Bealeton branch library

Want to stay informed about books, websites and events for teens and young adult readers? Check out more from Reading Riot.

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