Battle of the Books

battle of the books contestants
  • Selma Elementary
    Battle of the Books Information


    North Carolina's Battle of the Books can be traced back to a public radio program in Chicago in the 1940s originated by Ruth Harshaw.  Librarians exposed to the original show reconstructed the game to encourage reading today.

    Michael Leonard, an Illinois native, first introduced the contest in Onslow County when he accepted the position of Children's Librarian for the Onslow County Public Library. His rationale for placing it at the sixth grade level was the dearth of activities in the public library and in the public schools for this aged child. In 1981, Onslow County Public Library sponsored the first North Carolina Battle of the Books contest for sixth graders.

    The North Carolina Association of School Librarians assumed sponsorship of Battle of the Books in 1991. In 2000, the North Carolina School Library Media Association (NCSLMA) became a sponsor of Battle of the Books, and independent schools became a region for competition.  The formation of an Elementary Battle of the Books committee began in 2010.  At the current time, there will only be local and regional battles.   

    • The purpose of the Elementary Battle of the Books program is to encourage reading by all students at the elementary school level.
    • Each team consists of up to 12 members who are in 4th and 5th grades.
    • Our team currently includes 7 fourth-graders and 5 fifth graders.

    Selma Elementary's 2021-22 team members are: Coming Soon!

    Leta Woodall








    Our head coach is Leta Woodall.
    She has been the head coach for SES since the competitions began in 2011.

    • We are the only elementary school in Johnston County that has participated every single year since JCS first began holding the Elementary Battle of the Books competitions in the Spring of 2011.   We were third place in 2011, we won in 2012, we were third place in 2013, and we won in 2014.
    • We won the Region 3 competition in 2012, and we placed second, just behind Durham County in the Region 3 competition in 2014.   
    • Team members read books from a state list, which includes 15 titles, chosen by the North Carolina School Library Association.  The book list changes each year. 
    • During the competition, 6 team members compete against 6 members from an opposing team by answering questions about the books.  Questions always begin with “In which book…” and students must give the correct title, worth 2 points, and the correct author, worth 1 point.  If a team answers incorrectly, the question is redirected to the other team.  Each game consists of 8-12 questions.  Each team plays every other team one time.  Points are cumulative to the end of the competition where the team with the most points is declared the winner.
    • At Selma Elementary, students who are interested in being on our team must try out during the first nine weeks of the school year.  During tryouts, students read one book from the list and then take a quiz on the book.  Students who score the highest on the quiz move on to the second round of tryouts where they are quizzed on more than one book, and also judged on personal characteristics such as the ability to work well with others, pay attention, and speak up in front of an audience.  Students must have a positive recommendation from their teacher.  Once the twelve team members are chosen, they begin reading the books, studying comprehension folders, and practicing every week. 
    • Team members are expected to maintain good grades, not have any behavior issues in their classroom or on the bus, and have good attendance.  They sign a contract when they are chosen to be on the team and they know that they can be suspended or removed from the team if there are problems.   
    • The school provides copies of the books for team members to read, so we are always looking for sponsors who would like to donate money to purchase the books.  Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of people and are tax-deductible.  We purchase print copies typically, but we are beginning to use ebooks on Nooks and iPads more each year.  Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor can contact me via email at or call the school at 919-965-3361.
    • We hope one day they will have a State level competition for the elementary winners like they do for middle schools.


  • NC Elementary
    Battle of the Books List 2021-22



    *At the Bottom of the World

    Bill Nye & Gregory Mone

    Ban This Book

    Alan Gratz

    From the Desk of Zoe Washington

    Janae Marks

    Blood on the River

    Elisa Carbone


    Margaret Peterson Haddix

    The Fourteenth Goldfish

    Jennifer L. Holm

    Merci Suarez Changes Gears

    Meg Medina

    The Old Willis Place

    Mary Downing Hahn

    Rain Reign

    Ann M. Martin

    The Parker Inheritance

    Varian Johnson

    Runaway Twin

    Peg Kehret

    Save Me a Seat

    Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan

    A Snicker of Magic

    Natalie Lloyd

    Stella by Starlight

    Sharon M. Draper

    Shouting at the Rain

    Lynda Mullaly Hunt

    *Jack and the Geniuses - Book  1

    **The Missing Series - Book 1


    District Competition Dates:  TBA

    Regional Competition Dates:  TBA

    Selma Elementary battle of the books champions 20


    Selma Elementary School won the Johnston County Elementary Battle of the Books competition March 2nd. Their team of fourth and fifth graders read 18 novels from the North Carolina Elementary Battle of the Books list and answered questions from all of these novels. After the day long competition against other Elementary Teams from Johnston County Schools, the Selma Elementary Team earned the most points and became the Elementary Battle of the Books champions! The  team was coached by the school's media coordinator, Leta Woodall, and fifth grade teachers, Amanda Gosek and Makenzie Manard. 
    Left to Right: Vanessa Acosta, Sofia Tolosa-Ramirez, Izabella Holland, Alexia Bojorquez, Gabriela Juarez, Kailey Rea, Ernesto Salinas, Madie Woodall, Edgar Blanco, Jeremiah Wallace, Ella Jordan



    north carolina battle of the books - pull for your team