Registration open for ‘Battle of the Books’

Hazel Park Public Library also hosting a sale to benefit programs Sept. 5-9

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published September 4, 2023


HAZEL PARK — Teams are now forming at the library in Hazel Park for a new event this fall: the Battle of the Books.

The library, located at 123 E. Nine Mile Road, will hold the event at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. Participants will be divided into three age groups: an elementary school tier, with kids in third through fifth grades; a middle school tier for kids in sixth through eighth grades; and a high school tier for those in ninth through 12th grades.

The participants in each tier will vote to read several books, selected from a list curated by the librarians running the contest. On Nov. 11, before an audience at the library, the teams will square off to see which side can correctly answer the most questions about each title. A panel of judges will decide whether the answers are acceptable.

Randy Ernst-Meyer, one of the librarians, said the questions will cover everything from settings and scenarios to character motivations and histories.

“To use an example from ‘Lord of the Rings,’ we might ask, ‘Who carries the ring,’ ‘Where did they go to get rid of the ring,’ ‘Who are the wizards,’ things like that,” Ernst-Meyer said. “And the type of questions usually depend on the story. Like if a book has a strong element of place, you would do more things with that, like Hogwarts in the ‘Harry Potter’ series. And if it’s, say, a murder mystery, we would ask more questions about plot, like who killed who.”

A coin toss will determine turn order. Amy Beem, another librarian running the event, said she thinks it could become a recurring event at the library.

“I’m hoping it will be very memorable for the kids, and special, because they’ve rounded up their friends to read with them — to discuss the books, study and critique them — and then they get to have fun competing,” Beem said. “I think it will be a way to socialize with old friends and get to know new friends joining their group. They might discover common interests.”

“It’s like a competitive book club,” added Ernst-Meyer. “Everyone gets into the book. They learn things about each story, they share it, and then they compete to see who knows more. When you have contests like this in a school, there’s an element of ‘you must do this,’ but since they’re choosing to do this, it’s more enjoyable. It’s just fun. Book clubs, by their very nature, are fun, and when you get to compete, it’s even more fun.”

Participants will receive medals for competing, and the winners will receive special bookends inscribed with the names of their team members. Participants will also receive free gift books, as will kids in the audience watching the event. The books will be brand new, funded in part by a grant from the group Reading Is Fundamental.

“We’re just very excited to be able to do this,” Beem said.

Participants can sign up at the library. There is also a sale currently taking place there, which started Sept. 5 and will continue through Sept. 9. Hosted by the Friends of the Hazel Park Library, the sale is one of two major fundraisers that help pay for materials and programs each year.

The hours are noon to 8 p.m. Sept. 6 and Sept. 7, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 8, and noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 9. Saturday is “Bag Day,” where you can fill a bag with items for just $5. There will be more than 1,000 gently used items available, including books, magazines, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and puzzles.

“The sale really helps with money for programming,” Beem said. “Like with the summer reading program, our Friends group was kind enough to pay for all of the performers that Randy and I had arranged. It also pays for the books we get for that program, and the prizes.”

“It’s not only for programs and materials, but in the past when the library needed money to pay for repairs, the Friends stood up for us then, too,” said Ernst-Meyer. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do half the things that we do. They are a very generous and dedicated group. Between them and our loving Hazel Park community, this library stays strong.”