Gallaudet's Battle of the Books was established in 2012. Its roots can be traced to the Battle of the Books competition amongst several deaf schools across the nation. The original contest in 2007 had four participating schools: California School for the Deaf, Fremont led by Beth Kunze, Metro Deaf School led by Lisa Ewan, New Mexico School for the Deaf led by Jennifer Herbold, and Texas School for the Deaf led by Leslie Hussey. The competition's brainchild was Leslie Hussey who gained inspiration from one of her TSD students, Maggie Kopp. Maggie Kopp is the same person who wrote the article at the bottom of this page. The first competition had only one reading group, but in 2008, the competition was expanded to include readers from four different groups. In 2009, Maryland School for the Deaf and Phoenix Day School for the Deaf joined the competition. In 2012, an agreement was reached to allow Gallaudet to take over the competition and expand it so that other programs for the deaf and hard of hearing could join.
The first annual Gallaudet's Battle of the Books was held in the fall of 2012 as a pilot competition. 105 students on 35 teams from 17 schools participated in the competition. Texas School for the Deaf won the first Buff group national competition. Kansas School for the Deaf won the first Blue group national competition, and Texas School for the Deaf also won the first Green group national competition. Lydia Kopp of Texas School for the Deaf won the first Most Outstanding Player award. Bryan Yun of Earle B. Wood Middle School, Jared Herman of California School for the Deaf, Riverside, Claude Martinez-Krohn of Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, and Malvana Ramborger of Texas School for the Deaf were also recognized as All-Star Players.
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.