SevernHome

Virtual Literary Showdown: Battle of the Books 2020

Guest article by Teel Campus Associate Librarian Ms. Diana Ford
Remote learning presented a new challenge for the Battle of the Books 2020, for participants and organizers alike. Typically, students from area schools meet together for this quiz-bowl competition that digs into a fantastic selection of books for young readers. This year, the tournament was virtual. And although the teams couldn’t meet in person, the event proved that our students have a passion for reading (and competing!) no matter the format.

A New Day, A New Way

Teel Campus Associate Librarian Ms. Diana Ford, Assistant Librarian Ms. Whitney Etchison, and Chesapeake Campus Librarian Ms. Kristen Kwisnek met via Zoom with other AIMS librarians to discuss how to best keep the spirit of the competition during remote learning. With students eager to continue reading and put their knowledge to the test, the show had to go on!

The team of librarians recreated the in-person competition using Zoom, with breakout rooms for individual teams. Teams were asked a question and sent to a breakout room to discuss and provide a final answer to the librarian in that room. They then returned to the main session to find out if they answered correctly.
“When the Battle of the Books organizers decided to hold the competition virtually, I worried that our team wouldn’t want to participate. There would be no field trip to the competition site and no visible audience to cheer them on. But I had absolutely nothing to worry about! Our team was gung-ho about the competition in any form and enthusiastically continued to prepare for Battle day. I even got a Zoom chat message from one of the team members saying, ‘I can’t wait until Battle of the Books!”’ — Ms. Kwisnek

A Win for Our Readers

For student participants, this competition was simply the culminating event after months of preparation. To prepare as a team, students were tasked with reading a list of 10 books, remembering key details about plot and characters, and memorizing the title and author. Leading up to the day, Severn teams met monthly during lunches to discuss books and quiz their teammates. Their hard work more than paid off during the competition when they displayed an impressive knowledge of the books and an even greater sense of teamwork. As 7th grader Grady Gelston put it, “It is a great experience, and it was lots of fun. It was especially awesome for us to get 1st place.”
Severn School students and teachers on a Zoom meeting.
Our 5th and 6th-grade team preparing with Ms. Ford and Ms. Kwisnek just before the event.
“I'm really proud of all our kids who competed, for sticking with it even through this time of remote learning, social distancing, and uncertainty. We all have so much more on our mental and emotional plates right now and I was impressed with their dedication to reading the books and showing up for their teams.” — Ms. Etchison
Severn School students on a Zoom meeting.
Our 7th grade team in a breakout session during the competition.
Thank you to every 5th, 6th and 7th grader who prepared and participated in the event along with a big congratulations to our 7th-grade team for their win!
  • Bronwyn Bolton '25
  • Grady Gelston '25
  • Grant Lonergan '25
  • Davis Mann '25
  • Jameila Pennant '25
  • Alex Perritt '25
  • Tara Qualey '25
  • Lottie Morgan '26
  • Elise Cherry '27
  • Isla Crawford '27
  • Brooklyn Hanley '27
  • Bennett Foster '27
  • Alexis Patane '27

The Books

Looking for new books for students to read digitally at home? Check out the competition lineup! Many of these are available as ebooks through Severn’s libraries or the Anne Arundel County Public Library:
5th & 6th Grade Level
  • Rules by Cynthia Lord
  • A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
  • 90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis
  • Savvy by Ingird Law
  • Island of Thieves by Josh Lacey
  • Truth as told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
  • Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoone
  • Front Desk by Kelly Yang
  • Sweep by Jonathan Auxier
  • 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling
7th & 8th Grade Level
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Nothing but the Truth by Avi
  • Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
  • Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard
  • Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
  • Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
  • Chasing King's Killer by James Swanson
  • Life Boat 12 by Susan Hood


Severn Libraries During Remote Learning

Our librarians have been working hard to make sure our community has easy access to the array of digital media we host in our collection, along with a wealth of helpful resources available publicly. On Teel Campus, Ms. Carrington, Ms. Ford, and Ms. Etchison are available on Zoom and by email to help students with research, offer book recommendations, or even just to hang out and talk books. Our Lower School students have regular Zoom classes with Ms. Kwisnek as part of their Special Subject rotation just as we do when on campus together. As always, our entire library crew is committed to helping classroom teachers develop creative lessons to ensure our students are smart consumers of information and continue to develop a lifelong love of reading.

Please share!

Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146