Six Battle of the Books participants smile and cheer as they hold up the books they've read.
Battle of the Books participants included 193 students representing 37 schools. Credit: Courtesy photo

Elementary and junior high students from throughout the county competed in Santa Barbara County Education Office’s 22nd annual Battle of the Books series.

The voluntary reading program encourages students to read books from a designated list, and culminates in three friendly battles of reading comprehension skills through questions on plot, characters and theme.

There were 193 students in fourth-eighth grades who participated in the three events, which included an Elementary Individual Virtual Battle, an Elementary Group In-Person Battle, and a Junior High School Individual Virtual Battle.

During the Elementary Battle on April 27, students were placed on teams with their peers from different schools. Teams were quizzed on 28 titles during three tense rounds, ending with a battle royale showcasing the two top teams.

Guest author Bruce Hale led the final round. The first place team also received signed copies of his latest book “Switched.”

As an added feature this year, students from Arthur Hapgood Elementary School also participated in a pilot Spanish language version of the event, Partido de los Libros, which translates to Game or Scrimmage of the Books.

Partido de los Libros was hosted in anticipation of a full Batalla de los Libros to be hosted by the Santa Barbara County Education Office during the 2023-24 school year. Details will be released in the fall.

Winners of the Elementary Individual Virtual Battle, held April 19 are (in alphabetical order):

• Verenise Garcia Ramirez, sixth-grade, George Washington Battles Elementary (Santa Maria-Bonita School District)
• Sherab Wangmo, fifth-grade, La Patera Elementary School (Goleta Union School District)
• Sieun Yoo, sixth-grade, Isla Vista Elementary School (Goleta Union School District)

Winners of the Elementary Group In-Person Battle, hosted April 27, are:
• First place team members: Margot Bruneel, La Patera Elementary School (fifth-grade); Mara DiGuilio, Monroe Elementary School (fourth-grade); Layla Foster, Canalino Elementary School (fifth-grade); Rhett Hain, Buena Vista Elementary School (fourth- grade); Lei-anna Navarro, Ellwood Elementary School (fifth-grade); and Maia Weld, Adams Elementary School (sixth-grade)
• Second place team members: Ava Bethlenfalvay, Buena Vista Elementary School (sixth-grade); Alexandria Grote, Ellwood Elementary School (fourth-grade), Jane Hanson, Mountain View Elementary School (fifth-grade); Lalani Resendemembez, Washington Elementary School (sixth-grade); and Ishaan Srivastav, Foothill Elementary School (sixth- grade)

Winners of the Junior High School Individual Virtual Battle, held May 3, are (in alphabetical order):
• Makayla Cain, seventh-grade, Vandenberg Middle School (Lompoc Unified School District)
• Sharli Syed, eighth-grade, Vandenberg Middle School (Lompoc Unified School District)
• Rachel Torres, eighth-grade, Fesler Junior High School (Santa Maria-Bonita School District)

“It is so special to see students from all corners of our county come together and share their passion for reading,” said Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools. “We would like to commend the participating students for their preparation, perseverance, and exceptional teamwork.”

The reading lists for next year’s Battle of the Books will be posted on May 8 at