Annual Literary Showdown Looms As Students Prep For Name That Book Contest

March 4, 2009

Houston Independent School District students have been doing heaps of extra reading lately, from classic literature to contemporary award-winning books, gearing up for the annual Name That Book Contest.


At the contest, an announcer will read a passage from a book. Students will discuss the passage until they reach a consensus about the book from which it comes. Trying to beat the buzzer, team captains will write the title of a book on a whiteboard in the upper grade contests. In the K-2 contest, the younger students flip through their book of covers to identify the title that fits the question. In the end, the team with the highest number of correct titles will be deemed the winners. The students have prepared for months, reading books and then quizzing each other with quotes. 


There are four contests divided among the various grade levels. Teams compete in preliminary contests and the top teams advance to the finals. This year the finals are as follows:


Elementary (3-6) – March 13 at 9:30 a.m., Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th St.


High School – March 26, 9:30 a.m., Doris Miller Center, 5216 Feagan


Elementary (K-2) – April 17, 9:30 a.m., Doris Miller Center


Middle School –  May 8, 9:30 a.m., Doris Miller Center


HISD’s “Name That Book” contest originated at River Oaks Elementary School more than 20 years ago as a competition between classrooms. The Department of Library Services then took on the responsibility for coordinating a district-wide version of the contest which allowed it to expand to include four separate competitions for grades K-2, middle school, and high school, as well as the original grades 3-6 contest.  This year, there are over 200 teams registered to compete in the contest.


Campus librarians, teachers, and parent volunteers form school teams and coach students to prepare for competition.  The contest serves to acquaint HISD students with classic literature as well as contemporary award-winning books representing a variety of genres. This year, students competing in the grades 3-6 contest will be indentifying quotations taken from a reading list of 34 books, many of which also appear on the Texas Bluebonnet Award List. This year’s competition for grades 3-6 will begin on March 6 and conclude on March 13 at 9:30 a.m. with the finals competition in the Hattie Mae White board auditorium.


Suzanne Lyons, library specialist and contest coordinator for grades 3-6 said, “The Name That Book competition is something that can make a difference in a child’s future relationship with reading.  Strong, enthusiastic readers become more so, and less motivated readers become excited about reading. The result of a child competing in Name That Book is evident in the increase in his reading ability as well as his motivation to read.”


The high school contest will be held on March 23-24 with 20 schools competing for a chance to compete in the finals which will be held at the Doris Miller Center on Thursday, March 26 at 9:30 a.m. This year students in the high school contest read from a list consisting of 36 titles. The winners of this contest will win gift cards with a total value of more than $3,000 from Barnes and Noble Booksellers, which has partnered to support this contest over the past four years.


Debbie Hall, contest coordinator at the high school level, said, “This contest develops avid readers, even among busy high school students. It is amazing how well they know every title on the list.”  


“The Name That Book meetings are so fun. It is wonderful to have a place at school to exchange ideas and discuss incredible books with other students,” said Devyn Tyler, member of last year’s first-place high school team and a theater student at HSPVA.  “The books on the Name That Book list really provide something for everyone.  They are thought provoking and challenging, and I have consequently fallen in love with some great books I probably wouldn’t have read if it hadn’t been for Name That Book.  I have also made friends that I probably wouldn’t have made if not for Name That Book.”


Contests for grade K-2 are scheduled for April 13-20 and the Middle School competition is scheduled for May 5-8. There are 30 titles and 61 teams represented in the K-2 contest, and 39 titles and 32 schools in the middle school contest.


InstantNewsWestu Staff

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