What is the Battle of the Books Program?

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Battle of the Books is a national Summer Reading Program for middle- and high-school students. Participants in the Mid-Hudson Library System program are asked to read the selected titles each summer, and then participate in trivia battles based on the books. Beginning in 2021, each library team will participate in a regional battle, with the winners progressing to face one another in the finals.

The goal of the program is to promote a love of reading in children and teens, to expose them to titles and authors that they might not encounter in school, and to inspire teamwork and good sportsmanship in an atmosphere of friendly competition.

The titles for the program are chosen by representatives from the participating libraries. Care is taken to include a variety of genres such as mystery, fantasy, classics, historical fiction, adventure, sports, or contemporary fiction. Consideration is given to the range in ages of the participants so that books that are chosen are appropriate for all.

The member libraries of the Mid-Hudson Library System have been participating in Battle of the Books since 2005. When the program began, only six libraries participated. Today, we have over 20 libraries regularly participating. Contact your local library for information about joining a team.

Who Can Participate?

In 2016, the MHLS Battle of the Books split into two age groups–Middle School and High School. Students entering grades 5 through 9 are eligible for the middle school program, and those entering grades 9 through 12 can join the high school program. Recent graduates are also invited to join! Participants are expected to read the titles during the spring and summer months. Each library has its own requirements for meetings and attendance, the necessary number of books to read, and decision on who will represent the library in the Regional Battle.

Are There Any Fees to Participate?

Like most library programs, there is not a fee charged to participants. The program itself is funded through donations from Friends Groups and other generous supporters. However, each library invests money in the program to purchase books, t-shirts and other incentives. Again, this can vary from library to library.

Where Do Participants Get the Books?

It is up to the individual libraries to purchase copies of the titles. Copies of the books are also available through the Mid-Hudson Library System Catalog.

Do Participants Need to Read All of the Titles?

Each library determines their own rules. If there are any concerns regarding a title, please contact your library’s coach and they will bring up your concern to the rest of the committee.

When and Where are Meetings Held?

Each library determines the best meeting times for their teams and most are held at the specific library. Most participating libraries begin the program in the spring to allow the team to have enough time to read the books and to participate in practice battles with other neighboring libraries.

How are the final Battles Held?

Beginning in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we changed the structure of our competitions. Each library team is placed in a pod with other local teams, against whom they compete in a Regional Battle in August. The winners of those battles will go on to the Finals to determine the year’s first, second, and third place winners!

Where do the Questions Come From?

The questions for the Regional and Final Battles are written by representatives from each of the participating libraries. These questions are edited by members of the Question Committee who select the best questions for each of the titles to be used in the Regional and Final Battles. The leftover questions are distributed to participating libraries to use for practice battles.