Article by Original BOTB participant

Article written by Margaret Kopp, a Texas School for the Deaf senior, in the fall of 2012:


Six years ago, I moved from Columbus, Ohio to Austin, Texas to attend the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD). When my mother and I met with my sixth-grade English teacher, Leslie Hussey, we flitted with the idea of having a Battle of the Books competition at TSD. The Battle of the Books idea came from my experience at Huy Elementary School in Columbus. Human memory is faulty and not always precise, but as far as I can remember, we had about seven or eight books to read. Several subsequent matches were held in my fifth-grade class to determine the final four players who would be on the team. I was the only deaf student in the classroom, and I made the team. We competed against a neighboring elementary school. Our team lost the match, but I genuinely enjoyed the experience and wanted to participate again at my new school.

Leslie embraced the idea of having a Battle of the Books competition at TSD and consulted the teacher at Huy Elementary School. She did a wonderful job selecting books, composing questions, and coordinating the event. That first Battle of the Books competition at TSD was fairly small. We only had one team composed of middle school students from various grades. Videophone matches were held with only a few other deaf schools, but it still was a significant change for me; I didn’t have to rely on an interpreter to communicate with my teammates.


Back then, I never imagined the competition would become as widespread as it has today. With every consecutive school year, the number of interested participants steadily grew. Compared to the first competition in the fall of 2006, there are now more teams, far more matches, and a greater variety of books to read. At the most recent competition this past fall, there were 35 teams from 17 schools! This year, my little sister, Lydia Kopp (an 8th grader), is one of three players representing TSD at the Gallaudet competition, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I hope the Battle of the Books will continue to provide an opportunity for stimulating competition that will ultimately foster students’ love for literacy. 


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