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Saturday 24 June 2023

A Snapshot of Practice: Expanding Children’s Reading Repertoire Through the Book Battle

Anna Davidson continues to provide exciting and innovative strategies to build reading interest and stamina in young readers. Following of from Book Chats for primary students in an earlier post, this week she introduces the idea of a Book Battle to hook enthusiastic younger readers.

The lower primary years can be an exciting time for students as they develop their skills to read independently. Finding the right titles and series can sometimes be overwhelming for young people, so it is important for library staff to guide students as they navigate their way through the book selection process.

In our library space, we use several strategies in our quest to hook students into great series and expand their reading repertoire beyond the heavily marketed books that need little introduction (Anh Do, I’m looking at you!)

During library lessons, we formally book talk new titles, both those that are newly published and those that might be new to individual readers.  We also informally promote books to students in one-on-one ‘Me as a Reader’ conversations, providing book preview stacks for students to explore.

By far, the most exciting way to expand children’s reading repertoire in the lower primary years is by having a Book Battle!  It’s super easy to set up and run, students have a great time and, most importantly the Book Battle gets kids talking about and borrowing a new range of books.

Book Battle wall display and borrowing boxes.

So, how does it work?

  1. Choose eight lower primary series to battle it out over 7 weeks.  Hint – I try to choose series with lots of titles available to increase access for children borrowing.
  2. Each week, read the first chapter from two books.
  3. Students scan the QR code linked to a Microsoft Form to vote for their favourite title.
  4. The winning book proceeds to the next round.

Voting in action - Book Battle Round 1A

Displaying boxes of the participating series under the Book Battle fixture means students can easily access the books, leading to increased borrowing of these series.

What do the Year 2 students have to say about the Book Battle?

“I love that we get to decide which book we like the most.  It’s always a surprise to see which book goes through to the next round of the Book Battle.  I’m really nervous about which book is going to win the Grand Final!” 


“I love that we get to listen to lots of different books. It helps me get into new series.” 


“Some of the books are really funny. I love choosing which book I like the best.” 


“It’s such a fun challenge.  Every week we have fun and it is a bit of a mystery which book will win.” 


“All of my favourite books are in the Book Battle! There are so many different types of books – funny, adventure, sporty” 


“The book I vote for keeps on winning, which is awesome!” 


“The Book Battle helps me choose different books when I don’t know what to choose.” 


An unexpected highlight of the Book Battle is the attention drawn to the Book Battle display.  Older students regularly ask, “Can we have a Book Battle too?”, debating which series/books they would include.  Older students also enjoy reminiscing about which series they enjoyed when they were in lower primary.

The Book Battle is a simple, fun way to expand children’s reading repertoire and encourages them to talk about what they are reading.  

Anna Davidson

Twitter - @davidsonteach

Junior School Teacher Librarian, avid reader (mad for Middle Grade Fiction), dog lover, yogi, nature lover, tea drinker

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