Battling Battles

I have a new pet peeve.

Thanks to SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books, people are beginning to do their own book battles. They put together a group of books, and have them battle against each other, usually through having kids vote for their favorites. SLJ’s Battle, while annoying to some, gets very prestigious authors as judges, and their musings on the pair of books they are judging between are usually thoughtful and interesting.

Problem is…Battle of the Books is a program that has been around in libraries since the 1930s. It began as a radio competition sponsored by the department store Carson Pirie Scott and the Chicago Public Schools. Later on, it became a program where kids divided into teams and competed against other teams (usually from another school). They all read from the same list, and answer questions. At my library, we’ve been running Battle for over 30 years. It’s a great way to put a list of excellent books in the hands of kids and know they will read them. We work hard to come up with a list with variety, with books that appeal to all interests and tastes.

So it’s really not cool that the name of a long-standing program is being co-opted by another program. It’s like coming up with a program where kids write books and calling it storytime. But it’s one of those ships that has already sailed. I don’t think there’s much chance SLJ will change the name of their program, and anyway librarians in the field are already using it. But it is my new pet peeve.

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3 Responses to Battling Battles

  1. medinger says:

    I’m sorry about this situation and don’t blame you for being peeved. SLJ came up with the name and unfortunately no one at the time seemed to be aware that it was already being used in a long and distinguished event, one featuring child readers, no less. It is terribly unfortunate and I do wish it could be changed, but don’t see that happening four years in.

    • sdlempke says:

      Hi Monica! It is unfortunate, but ultimately probably only confusing to librarians. Patrons will continue coming to Battle or voting in Battles without ever knowing the other version exists. Good luck this year!

  2. Nicole says:

    Oh wow. I didn’t know that… very interesting.

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