Students Stein Dostal, Sophia Owen, Lauren Stichert, and Johnathan Gee-Miles made up the winning team for the Battle of the Books. They are pictured at Floyd Dryden Middle School on Feb. 27. (Courtesy photo)

Students Stein Dostal, Sophia Owen, Lauren Stichert, and Johnathan Gee-Miles made up the winning team for the Battle of the Books. They are pictured at Floyd Dryden Middle School on Feb. 27. (Courtesy photo)

Middle school team wins Battle of the Books state championship

Win comes after placing third last year

Another Juneau school took a state title home. This time, not for robotics, but for reading comprehension.

On Tuesday, the Floyd Dryden Middle School team took home the state championship at the Battle of the Books. The competition took place with schools all over the state via conference call.

“It was a pretty fun experience coming in first this year instead of coming out short in third,” said Stein Dostal, one of the winning team members. Lauren Stichert, Johnathan Gee-Miles and Sophia Owen were the other students on the winning team.

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The same team competed previously and got third last year at the state level. This year Juneau came in first and Anchorage and Mat-Su tied for second place.

“Actually the first round was the most nerve-wracking,” said Stichert. “It was very tense because a lot of us were kind of close, but toward the end it got easier.”

The Battle of the Books is a statewide Alaskan reading motivation and comprehension program sponsored by the Alaska Association of School Librarians. The goals of the program are to encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading, broaden reading interests, increase reading comprehension, and promote academic excellence.

Lists of books are chosen and questions are written for all grade levels. Students read the books, discuss them, quiz each other on the contents, and then compete in teams of not more than three students to correctly answer questions based on the books in a “quiz show” format, said Sheryl Hall Wittig, coordinator of the Battle of the Books.

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Questions begin with the words “In which book…” so that the answer will always be a title and author.

“They’re asked questions like, ‘In which book do dishes hover over the garbage can?’ or, ‘In which book is a character told to take smaller bites of an apple?’” Wittig said.

Students can challenge an answer if they get it wrong, then they get two minutes to prove their case that the incident in question also happens in a different book. But Wittig said their case has to be pretty specific to the question.

“It’s better to read the books over and over again than just once and think you’re done,” said Owen.

Gee-Miles said he didn’t read one of the 10 books, but the other team members helped fill each other in on the books that they missed.

“We worked really well as a team I think,” Gee-Miles said. “We kind of worked on different parts, like books that other people didn’t read others knew about, so we could give them hints about what was in the book.”

Teams participated at the local, district and state levels of competition — with the exception of K-2 students whose informal competition went only through the classroom level.

• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at or 523-2228.

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