Book Battle

Marshfield students put their heads together to answer a question Wednesday during the Battle of the Books competition against North Bend students at the Coos County Public Library.

COOS BAY — The Coos Bay and North Bend school districts went head-to-head in the first Battle of the Books competition of the season last night.

The competition was sponsored through grants from the State of Oregon Library and the Oregon Association of School Libraries, according to the Marshfield High School and CBSD Librarian Catherine Hampton.

North Bend studentsdiscuss an answer a question Wednesday during the Battle of the Books competition at the Coos County Public Library.

As she explained it, there are three state divisions split up by age groups. The first are 3rd through 5th graders, then 6th through 8th graders, and finally 9th through 12th grade. Last night, the high school students competed, having prepared by reading 12 books.

“In the battle, they are asked ‘in which book’ questions and content questions,” Hampton said. “It’s trivia for those books in their division and the other team can steal a question if the first team didn’t answer it correctly.”

For the younger divisions, students have to read 16 books. Hampton attributed that to their books being shorter than those in the older division.

The first battle was at the Coos Bay Public Library, where North Bend Mayor Rick Wetherell and Coos Bay City Councilman Drew Farmer sat in as judges.

For Wetherell, he has been judging the battle for five years.

“I enjoy seeing young people doing intellectual things,” he said.

Farmer sat in for Coos Bay Mayor Joe Benetti, who couldn’t judge this year. Farmer said the event was wonderful, that he enjoyed hearing the students talk among themselves as they deliberated answers.

“The students are excited to finally have a competition,” Hampton said. “One student has done this three years and says she is terrible at sports but is super competitive, so she gets really excited about the battles.”

Anita McHaney keeps score Wednesday during a Battle of the Books competition between Marshfield and North Bend students at the Coos County Pub…

Hampton pointed to the rivalry between the Coos Bay and North Bend teams and said it is friendly.

“I went to the Civil War game a few weeks ago and it wasn’t friendly, it was stressful,” Hampton said. “But at Oregon Battle of the Books, of course the teams want to win but they are friendly with each other and supportive.”

At the end of the evening, North Bend won four out of four battles.

“It showed where our team needs to work on things,” Hampton said after it ended.

North Bend Librarian Laurie Nordahl said the competition helped prepare both teams for regionals later, and that her students reread many of the books in advance.

“The team has worked hard,” she said. “But a lot of these students are friends. This is a fantastic time for the teams to get together.”

The next battle is Feb. 22 between North Bend, Coos Bay and Coquille school districts.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.