Elementary Battle of the Books 

The Elementary Battle of the Books is a reading motivation program for students in grades 4-8.


The program encourages reading as both an individual and social activity. It motivates both readers and non-readers to discuss books with their peers, encouraging students and teachers to expand their knowledge of new titles, authors, illustrators and a variety of literary genres.


Each year, the program culminates in an annual competition between teams of up to 7 students who have collectively read all of the titles on a pre-selected list of books. During the competition, students are asked knowledge-level questions about the books they’ve read.

Book smarts

Many Battle of the Books titles are selected directly from the Rebecca Caudill Award list. Caudill books are selected by a committee of Illinois librarians and teachers, and winners are determined by student votes across Illinois. Books are also selected from participant recommendations from the previous year’s competition, with a focus on diversity and broadening participants’ exposure to a variety of genres.  


Participating students read the books at their leisure and discuss the books at intervals during the school year with their coach and teammates. Each participating school determines the degree to which the titles are integrated into the school’s curriculum.


Each team is comprised of up to seven team members, who, between them, have read all 21 titles on the master list. The complete list of books is announced in early September of each year.


View this year's list of books for students in  grades 4-6 and  grades 7-8.

The competition

The first 150 registered teams participate in the annual Elementary Battle of the Books competition.  Each school may have up to two teams of seven players in grades 4-6 or 7-8. Each team must have one CPS coach and one school volunteer.


One student serves as the team captain. The captain memorizes every book title and author in addition to giving final answers to competition judges.


Each team competes in three rounds of competition to earn points throughout the day. The teams with the highest scores compete in front of an audience of approximately 1,000 people to determine the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Battle of the Books is a program that takes place throughout the entire school year. A timeline of events is featured below:

  • September: Battle of the Books titles are announced.
  • September – October: Schools register to compete in annual competition.
  • November – February: Teams meet before and after school to read and discuss the required books. School-level competitions take place and winning teams move on to the District finals.
  • March – April: Teams prepare for competition.
  • April: Battle of the Books competition takes place from 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Day and place to be announced. Competition is free and open to the public. 

The winners circle

CPS is proud to recognize the Battle of the Books winners for 2009:


Grades 4-6

  • First place: Cuffe Math and Science Technology Academy, 8324 S. Racine Ave.
  • Second place: Jackson Language Academy, 1340 W. Harrison St.
  • Third place: Bell Elementary, 3730 N. Oakley Ave.


Grades 7-8

  • First place: Corkery Elementary, 2510 S. Kildare Ave.
  • Second place: O.A. Thorp Academy, 6024 W. Warwick Ave.
  • Third place: Bell Elementary, 3730 N. Oakley Ave.

Get involved

Students interested in getting involved with the Battle of the Books of program should contact the librarian at his or her school. Students can join an existing team or start a new team.


And parents, family and community residents can get involved too. Family members frequently serve as practice question writers, book discussion leaders, school volunteers, competition judges, event volunteers and fundraisers. A school volunteer is required to accompany each team to the event. Contact your school’s Battle of the Books coach or our volunteer opportunity coordinator at (773) 553-6220.


American Girl Place Chicago

CPS thanks its partner, the American Girl Place Chicago, for continuing to support the Elementary Battle of the Books.


Additional Battle of the Book resources is listed below:

Chicago Public Library

International Children’s Digital Library 

Rebecca Caudill Award



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Contact information

Elementary Battle of the Books
1326 West 14th Place
Room 216
Chicago, Illinois 60608
Phone: (773) 553-6210
Fax: (773) 553-6211
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Elementary Battle of the Books
Photo gallery: Elementary battle of the books