Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Battle of the Books

You’ve probably heard of Battle of the Bands, but what about the Battle of the Books? 

The Grace A. Dow Memorial Library is hosting the 2022 Battle of the Books this winter. The program encourages and rewards readers, transforming reading into a shared, fun activity.
Battle of the Books 2022
Monica Anderson, library supervisor of acquisitions services, says the program began in the 1930s as a radio program in Chicago. 

“Libraries are great at sharing program ideas, and in the 1970s, Battle programs swept through libraries across the country,” she says. “Over time, the Battle format has changed, but the basic idea is the same – to introduce students to a lot of good books and have teams battle their way to the top spot by answering questions from those books.” Anderson says the program appeals to kids by introducing them to new titles, authors and genres. 

“The goal of the program is to appeal to everyone,” she says. “We have an extensive list of qualities we look for when creating a list of books for each Battle year, making sure we represent a variety of cultures across many genres and also making sure we have various levels of difficulty.”

In addition to fourth and fifth graders, this year, for the first time, the program includes sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. Eligible students can come from Midland County schools and homeschools. Interested students can form teams of 4-6 students, choose a team name, and an adult team manager. Teams must register online by Jan. 15. Battles begin in early February, and end with the championship battle in March.

Since the Battle didn’t take place in 2021, the students who were fifth graders last year did not have an opportunity to participate, says Anderson. “Now with the ability to do online battles, we decided to try offering a program with a different format that would allow this year’s sixth graders the opportunity they missed last year. We plan on launching the Middle School Battle in mid-January, and students can sign up on Beanstack individually or in pairs between February 14 and March 16.”

"We want kids to enjoy talking about books with their friends."Despite the competition, Anderson says the program’s main aspect is good fun. 

“We want kids to enjoy talking about books with their friends,” she says. “We always think the main benefit of Battle is finding new books to read, but we do offer prizes. All fourth and fifth graders get a t-shirt, pencil and certificate for participating. Teams that move on to Oral Battle Day will receive a button, and teams that move on to the Championship Battle will receive either a first or second place trophy.”
Grace A. Dow Memorial Library is again staging the Battle of the Books
While Anderson considers the book titles as the true stars, creating family reading opportunities and conversation-starters with friends is a bonus. Viewing reading as a reward in itself is the ultimate goal.


Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at