1. What is Gallaudet's Battle of the Books?

The Gallaudet's Battle of the Books is a reading competition sponsored by Gallaudet University. Schools and programs first form teams and these teams are then expected to read the selected books together to prepare for the competition. During the competitions team members work together to answer true or false, short answer, multiple choice, and presentation questions about the assigned books while competing against teams from all over the country.

There are three divisions in the competition and the division names are as follows:

  • Buff - one of Gallaudet's primary colors. The Buff Division consists of students who read at the 7th or above grades.
  • Blue - one of Gallaudet's primary colors. The Blue Division consists of students who read at the 5th and 6th grade levels.
  • Bison - named after Gallaudet's beloved mascot. The Bison Division consists of students who read at the 3rd and 4th grade levels.

2. Why was it established?

The purpose of the Battle of the Books is to promote literacy amongst Deaf and Hard of Hearing Middle School students; promote a spirit of academic competition and good sportsmanship; and to encourage critical thinking skills amongst Middle School students.

3. What is the format of the competition?

There are three parts to the Battle of the Books: the Preliminaries, the Playoffs, and the National competition. These competitions are spread out throughout the year with the Preliminary and Playoff competitions in the Fall and Nationals in the Spring.

During the Preliminary portion of the competition, each school will play a total of three matches via videophone or Zoom conferencing with 3 different opposing teams. The Youth Programs office will schedule all of the Preliminary matches.

Points from each of the three matches that teams play will be added up (we will count only the points, not the wins and losses). The top 12* teams from the Buff Division, the top 16* teams from the Blue Division, and the top 8 teams from the Bison Division will then be invited to the Playoffs portion of the competition.

During the Playoffs, Buff and Blue Division teams will have one match via videophone/Zoom with BOTB Librarians at Gallaudet. The points earned during the Playoff match will determine which teams are invited to the national competition.

For the Bison Division, the final 8 teams will compete in a tournament bracket and the Championship team will be invited to the National competition (to watch, not compete).

The top 6 teams from the Buff Division playoffs will get an all-expenses paid trip to Gallaudet for the national competition. The top 6 teams from the Blue Division playoffs will get an all-expenses paid trip to Gallaudet for the national competition. The top team from the Bison Division playoffs will get an all-expenses paid trip to Gallaudet for the national competition.

*these numbers are subject to change depending on the number of teams participating that year.

4. What does a Battle of the Books match look like?

Each Preliminary match will consist of two rounds, designated Chapter One and Chapter Two. The two rounds are played consecutively, with a two-minute breaks in between.

Chapter 1 will consist of Multiple Choice, True or False, and Short Answer questions in which team members will be allowed to discuss amongst each other before submitting the answers.

Chapter 2 will consist of Multiple Choice, True or False, and Short Answer questions in which team members will be allowed to discuss amongst each other before submitting the answers.

The Playoff match(es) will consist of three rounds, designated Chapter One, Chapter Two, and the Final Chapter. The three rounds are played consecutively, with two-minute breaks in between. The same type of questions are used for Chapter One and Two as in the Preliminary matches.

The Final Chapter will consist of 3 presentation-style questions in which team members will take turns giving answers. Each of the three readers will have two minutes to answer one question with no help from their teammates. A list of questions will be shown right before the Final Chapter begins so that teammates can assign themselves to the three questions. More details are shared in the Rules and Guidelines manual, including details about the National competition format.

5. Who can participate?

The Battle of the Books is open to teams of middle school students currently enrolled in recognized schools or programs for deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Schools or programs may be residential schools, day schools, mainstream programs, or any other type of educational program having middle-school age deaf or hard of hearing students. The Battle of the Books Executive Committee shall determine what constitutes "recognized schools or programs."

Where a single school or program does not have enough students to field its own Battle of the Books team, teams may be assembled by combining students from two or more schools or programs in reasonable proximity to each other. In some cases, as in a school in a rural area, the school may petition in writing, for special consideration by the Battle of the Books Executive Committee to include a larger radius. Other options are for a mainstreamed or home-schooled student to join the team of a local school or program for the deaf. All written petitions for special consideration will be considered by the Battle of the Books Executive Committee.

6. How many teams are allowed to participate in the Battle of the Books competition?

There is no limit to the number of schools that can participate in the Battle of the Books competition. Each school can register up to three teams (one team per division).

7. How many players can we have on each team in the competition?

Each team must have a minimum of three players. There is no limit to the number of players on a team, but a maximum of nine players is suggested in order to give each player a chance to play in one or more Preliminary matches. A more comfortable number would be 4 or 5 players per team in order to give each player enough playing time.

8. Are there any expenses for participating in the Battle of the Books competition?

All participating schools for the Bison Division will be expected to pay a $100 registration fee to help offset Battle of the Books operating costs. All participating schools for the Buff and Blue Division will be expected to pay a $250 registration fee. If a school participates in more than one division, they are expected to pay the registration fee for each team.

9. Who covers the expense for the books needed for the competition?

For the Preliminary competition, it is up to the participating schools to decide how to purchase books that the students need for the competition. Some schools obtain money from sponsors or a foundation to purchase the books. Some schools purchase the books using allocated money for books. Some schools have students' families purchase the books. The list of books will be shared with each chaperone. For the National competition, Gallaudet pays for the books and ships them to schools. The books should then be kept by the students.

10. How many books will my students/child be expected to read?

For the Preliminary and Playoff competitions, students are expected to read a total of three books. If their team advances to Nationals, they will have to read another four books.

11. Who selects the books every year?

The Battle of the Books’ Executive Committee is responsible for researching, screening, deliberating and selecting the books each year following a set of general guidelines.

12. From what book genres are books selected from for the BOTB competition?

We try to select books from a variety of genres. In the past we have selected books that were: graphic novels, memoirs, historical fiction, fantasy, etc. You can find a cumulative list of books that we have used in the past under the History tab.

13. When will the competition be held?

Please see the BOTB front page for the dates.

14. Why is there no longer a National competition for Bison Division teams?

We no longer have a National competition for the Bison Division. It is difficult to find enough books for the Bison Division every year. This is because most books at the 2nd/3rd/4th grade levels have content that are more age appropriate for the 7-9 age group rather than the 11-14 age group that our BOTB participants fall into. There are not enough potential book selections for us to be able to choose 7 books from every year and we end up choosing books from the same book series every year (i.e. Magic Tree House, Goosebumps, etc). We also want to encourage students who are reading at the 3rd/4th grade levels to aim high and work hard towards moving up to the Blue Division (and Buff eventually) in order to be able to qualify for the National competition. We will invite the winner of the Bison Division (as determined by the Bison Playoffs/Finals results) to the National competition as special guests so there will still be that lure for Bison Division players.

15. What if my school needs to withdraw from the competition after I have submitted my team(s)' registration fees?

If your team needs to withdraw from the competition, please inform the Battle of the Books Coordinator immediately. The registration fee is non-refundable after a certain date each year.

16. Can families and visitors watch the competition?

Families and visitors are more than welcome to watch the Preliminary competition at their children's schools. For the National competition, the competition schedule will be posted on the website. There is no charge to attend. The championship matches will also be webcasted live on Gallaudet's website. Families are more than welcome to travel to the national competition to support their child(ren).

17. Who do I contact for more information about Gallaudet's Battle of the Books?

For all questions related to the Battle of the Books, you can contact Alison O'Hara at alison.ohara@gallaudet.edu.

Travel FAQ for National competition

1. Where will teams be lodged while in Washington, D.C.?

Players and chaperones will stay on Gallaudet University’s campus in Washington, D.C., either in one of our updated dorm buildings, or at the Gallaudet University Kellogg Conference Center and Hotel. Parents, school administrators, and other fans are welcome to make their own arrangements at the same hotel or at another local hotel.

2. Who is responsible for supervising my students during their time in D.C.?

Chaperones are responsible for supervising their students between the time they arrive on campus on Saturday and the time they leave for the airport on Tuesday morning. During the day, chaperones will be responsible for supervising their students. We will provide a night time supervisor who stay up all night and keep an eye on the students while they are sleeping in the hotel/dorm rooms. Chaperones will not be allowed to leave their team to go off campus at any time during the competition period.

3. Which airport should teams fly to in Washington, D.C.?

Gallaudet will take care of the travel arrangements and will attempt to fly teams into the closest airport, which is the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

4. When should teams arrive in Washington, D.C.?

We will book flights that ensure all National-bound teams will arrive on the morning/afternoon of registration day. If teams want to arrive a day or two earlier to do some sightseeing in Washington, D.C., they are more than welcome to do so with the understanding that accommodations, transportation, and meals prior to registration will be at their own expense. Teams can also depart later if they want to stay for a day or two at their own expense after the competition ends.

5. What meals will be provided by Gallaudet during the competition?

Meals for team members and chaperones will be covered by Gallaudet from dinner on arrival day through breakfast on departure day. Teams will need to cover any meals before or after this time range, including meals during transit.

6. Will we have time to tour Washington, D.C. during the competition period?

Depending on the weather, we may have a night tour of D.C. on the first day of the National competition.

On the second day of the National competition, teams will not have time to go off on their own due to a full slate of matches and other activities.