Guest post by Diane Fuller, Director of Libraries: March can be an exciting time of year — the weather, spring break, college acceptances, and, of course, the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
Remembering the excitement of my alma mater, Seton Hall University, going to the Championship game, I fill out a bracket every year, including a few Cinderella teams, and wait for the games to begin.
This year, an idea popped into my head on how to use the excitement of March Madness to get students to discuss books: Book Madness!
A bracket-style competition allowed students to vote on the books they like best or (in the tradition of bracketology) think will beat another book. Like the NCAA Tournament, I created four regions using book genres — classics, non-fiction, science fiction and young adult. I selected books the boys read as part of the curriculum, for summer reading, or by authors who had visited the school. To rank them I went with a librarian’s best method of alphabetical order. This made for some interesting first round match-ups: The Catcher in the Rye vs. The Great Gatsby?!
The Upper School Library holds different contests throughout the year. Like the others, I announced Book Madness at assembly, the Wednesday before NCAA Selection Sunday. I was thrilled when the boys cheered. Brackets were available in the library and had to be turned in by the end of the day Friday. The first round began on Monday, March 14, with students, faculty, and staff voting through a Google Form. The second round of book selections continued that week, with a pause in the tournament during spring break.
I was concerned about declining interest after coming back from spring break, but the boys surprised me. Voting increased with each round during the week with 199 votes cast in the final round.
To Kill a Mockingbird (Classics) topped Ender’s Game (Science Fiction), winning with 69.3% (138) of the votes.
Students were awarded one point for each match-up they picked correctly, with a possible total score of 31. Going into the final round there were 6 brackets that had one of the final two books as their final selection. Congratulations to senior Jack Harvey, who picked the winning book and had a total of 24 points. He was awarded a Chipotle gift card, a popular choice by students in library contests.
It was a fun March for me, watching two bracket tournaments. While Seton Hall failed to make it out of the first round this year, I hate to admit that I picked Gonzaga to win that one.
Thirteen Reasons Why (one of my favorite books especially after meeting the author, Jay Asher) also didn’t make it out of the first round. Like basketball powerhouses, sometimes there’s no match for a classic. But there’s always next year…