I love watching kids get excited about books, and our local youth get particularly energized about turning their reading into a competition.

That is exactly what happens with the Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) program.

According to the official website at oregonbattleofthebooks.org, OBOB “is a statewide voluntary reading motivation and comprehension program sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries in conjunction with a Library Services and Technology Act grant. Students in third through 12th grade, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoints.”

Basically, OBOB is a trivia contest with questions based on a set of books selected by a statewide committee.

Roseburg Public Library is adding one physical copy of every book in the 2021-22 OBOB competition, which includes 16 titles each in the third through fifth grade division and sixth through eighth grade division. There are 12 titles in the ninth through 12th grade division.

In addition, all of the books are available for download on cloudLibrary and OverDrive as electronic books or audiobooks.

The lists of selected titles are available in the library’s online catalog at roseburg.biblionix.com; click on “Booklists” under the green “What’s Hot” tab. They also are available on the OBOB website.

To get started with OBOB, students create teams of four and prepare for local competition through their school. Homeschoolers and students enrolled in virtual schools should contact the public school district in which they reside for information about joining a team.

The best teams at participating schools then compete in a regional event, which will be virtual in 2022. The goal is to have an in-person state tournament next spring, although COVID protocols may change those plans.

What is especially awesome is that Battle of the Books started locally as part of Altrusa International of Roseburg’s Celebration of Literacy. Maxine Durst has been instrumental in Celebration of Literacy events from the start, and she told me the first Battle was sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club in 2002.

Durst said the project grew when Mary McClintock from Roseburg High School got involved. At the same time, there was another Battle of the Books group in the Salem area. Eventually, a committee created the first statewide program for the 2007-08 school year.

As the OBOB site states, the project’s mission is “to encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading, to broaden reading interests, to increase reading comprehension, promote academic excellence, and to promote cooperative learning and teamwork among students.”

Let the OBOB reading begin!

Kris Wiley is the director of the Roseburg Public Library. She can be reached at kwiley@cityofroseburg.org or 541-492-7051.

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