Battle of the Books

Members of the Pt. Higgins Elementary School’s Fantastic Four team, from left, Peter Hoefer, Mason Willett, Nate Duran and Ezra Roskam, take a moment for a photo with the trophy they earned in winning the Ketchikan School District’s Battle of the Books competition at the third and fourth grade level on Feb. 6 at the Ketchikan High School auditorium. Photo courtesy of Lara Powers

KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Three teams of Ketchikan students competed in the state-level tournament for the Battle of the Books competition last week.

Battle of the Books is an annual competition created by the Alaska Association of School Librarians as a tool to increase students' literacy and enthusiasm for reading a range of materials, according to the program website. Participating students are assigned up to 12 books to read during the year, and then compete in a game show style “battle” to test their recall of the books.

The program began with battles at the school level, followed by a round of district-level competitions. Last week, the teams that emerged victorious during district battles earlier in February competed with other schools statewide via teleconference.

Pt. Higgins Elementary School, Fawn Mountain Elementary School and Schoenbar Middle School were represented by teams of students that had won their district-level battles.

In the third and fourth grade bracket, Ketchikan was represented by Pt. Higgins' “The Fantastic Four,” which included students Peter Hoefer, Mason Willett, Nate Duran and Ezra Roskam.

According to Pt. Higgins librarian Lara Powers, the students battled from roughly 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. At the end of the competition, “The Fantastic Four” tied for third place with a team from Mat-Su Central, coming in behind the second-place winners from Kodiak and first-place winners from Anchorage.

In the fifth and sixth-grade bracket, “The Moonkeys” of Fawn Mountain Elementary School included Ian Merrill, Jesse Taylor and Bryant Marquez-Morales. The team came in 17th place during their state-level battle on Feb. 27, according to Fawn Mountain librarian Beth Brandt-Erichsen.

“The Moonkeys” competed against teams from the Mat-Su, Fairbanks, Klawock and Bering Strait areas.

Ultimately, their score of 125 points did not qualify them to move past the first round of competition.

“The boys worked really well as a team, and in the end were very complimentary of the other teams in our bracket,” Brandt-Erichsen said of their experience.

A team from Schoenbar Middle School competed against other students from Cordova, Unalaska and Klawock. Schoenbar claimed 12th place in their battle, according to AASKL information.

A new books list for the 2020-21 Battle of the Books has been tentatively released, and can be found online at