The Dragon Readers win first place in Battle of the Books.

The Dragon Readers win first place in Battle of the Books.

Photo provided by Joyce Oh

Students get excited about reading during Battle of the Books

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 5, 2024


BIRMINGHAM — On March 9, Birmingham Public School fourth and fifth graders will compete in the Baldwin Public Library’s Battle of the Books at 10 a.m. at Groves High School.

The Battle of the Books has taken place for several years and averages at about 375 students each year.

Participating students form teams and read from a selected list of five books. On competition day, teams compete by answering trivia questions about the books they read.

Each year, the battle encourages reading habits for both students who love books as well as students who are not typically big readers. The competition is beneficial to their reading skills and puts the students in a team scenario where they get to socialize and work together towards a common goal, the district said.

“It’s just so much fun to see the creativity, and the kids get so excited about reading, answering questions, spending time with friends and just learning more about books, with a friendly competition, of course,” said Rebekah Craft, the director of the Baldwin Public Library.

Craft said the students usually come up with creative team names and dress up in costumes based on the characters in the books.

“The biggest thing is that they just get super excited about the book and about reading, which is the whole point of it,” said Stephanie Klimmek, the head of youth services at the Baldwin Public Library. “That’s really, really what we want. They are reading things that they might not normally have read or picked up on their own if it was just left up to them.”

Joyce Oh is a parent who will be coaching a team for Battle of the Books for the third year. Two years ago, her oldest son was in fourth grade and gathered a group of friends to build a team for the competition. He went on to compete the next year as a fifth grader. His team, called the “Dragon Readers” actually came in first place both of the years they participated.

“I love the whole battle, because it gets kids to read books they don’t normally read,” Oh said.

Oh said they spend months preparing for the competition through weekly Zoom meetings, mock battles and other fun ways to study for the big day. She said she has seen this process benefit the students by building a sense of teamwork, hard work and accountability.

Oh added that the students treat the team like a democracy and vote on every decision, including the team name. The team landed on the name “Book Beasts” this year. The Book Beasts consists of six students.

For more information on this year’s competition, visit,