Every year, hundreds of children and supporting adults participate in a program called Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB), but unless you work with children or have a child in the school system, this may come as new information. Here’s a quick synopsis about the program from the official OBOB website:  

“The Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) is a statewide voluntary reading motivation and comprehension program sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries in conjunction with a Library Services and Technology Act grant. Students in 3rd-12th grade, regardless of ability, are exposed to quality literature representing a variety of literary styles and viewpoints. 

OBOB’s mission is to encourage and recognize students who enjoy reading, to broaden reading interests, to increase reading comprehension, promote academic excellence, and to promote cooperative learning and teamwork among students. 

OBOB is run primarily by volunteers through the Oregon Association of School Libraries (OASL) and funded partially through the Library Services and Technology Act, LSTA. OASL, and OBOB operating under its umbrella, are committed to equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and anti-oppression in our organization, policies, and practices.” https://www.oregonbattleofthebooks.org/ 

That’s a basic description, but OBOB is so much more! Every year a curated list is released with 14 to 16 diverse book titles. OBOB is broken down into three grade levels: 3rd to 5th, 6th to 8th, and 9th to 12th. Adults volunteer to coach a team, and teams are comprised of four to five members. The idea is that the teams will have read all the books and be able to answer specific, challenging questions about each of them. Most teams divide the list up, and individual members have the responsibility to know the books they have been assigned inside and out. This is where the coaches come in, quizzing the teams in regularly scheduled meetups with sample questions. The teams participate locally, but eventually there is an opportunity to compete on the state level.  

OBOB is a really big deal for a lot of children. The program starts at the beginning of the school year and winds down sometime in February. Here in Ashland, I’ll have families ask me about getting copies of the book in June for the following school year. (Kids like to get ahead of the game and read the books over the summer.) By the time October has rolled around, most children have already read all the books on the list and will have moved on to reading, and if it’s available in audio, listening over and over, to the 4 or 5 that they have decided to focus on.   

What I think is great about OBOB is that the book lists are usually really well done, so they are of interest to both children and adults who are just looking for a good read.  

With that in mind, anyone can access the OBOB book list in our catalog. Here ‘s the link: https://catalog.jcls.org/MyAccount/MyList/16025 

You can also go to the search field type, in OBOB and then make sure you click in lists in the dropdown menu where it says catalog. 

This year, through the work of our Education Outreach folks, JCLS is providing an opportunity for all children, regardless of whether they belong to a team, to participate in an unofficial OBOB program, UBOB. 

UBOB is a great way to bridge the divide between children who like to compete and the kids who would rather not, or the kids who really want to compete, but their school doesn’t have the resources to support a team. To quote Evelyn Lorence, one of the creators of UBOB, “We really wanted to offer UBOB as an accessible, individual reader program and used the idea of a National Parks passport as a jumping off point. It’s enriching for parks fans of all ages to visit a National Park and collect a stamp for doing so — wouldn’t it be cool if the JCLS library branches offered something similar?”

You can stop by your local branch and pick up a cool UBOB passbook, or you can sign up in Beanstack and track your progress there. 

Here is the link to UBOB: https://jcls.org/battle/

Here is a link to basic info about the program and a place to sign up for the challenge in Beanstack: https://jcls.org/collections/beanstackOther 

 Another exciting way JCLS is supporting OBOB is that we will now have OBOB Book Kits that will be available in the collection. These will include books, sample questions and more. The collection Development Department has also been working in the background to ensure that there are more copies of the book available.

So, whether your child is on a team or just hoping to read the OBOB books, this is an opportunity for all to expand reading horizons, go on unexpected journeys, and explore new genres.