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Battle of the Books 

It is 4:00 PM. The game host has welcomed everyone and explained the rules. The four students from the two teams are clustered, on opposite sides of the room, hunched over, leaning in towards each other, knees touching, possibly stroking a team mascot.

Anxious and proud teachers and parents are watching from chairs, placed around the walls.. A hush falls over the room as the first question is read aloud..."In what book is there a spider who can spell?"

The stop watch clicks on. A Battle of the Books game has begun.


On April 1st, the Le Marchant St. Thomas Team and a team from Sacred Heart School, faced off in the Final game of the Battle of the Books Elementary Division at the Halifax Central Library.  The game was close but LMST emerged as this year’s winner! Congratulations!

The 2019 Teen Division of Battle of the Books came to a close with a phenomenally exciting and tense game.  Halifax Central and the Grade 8 Independent Tortoises were perfectly matched  and people watching could hardly breathe, knowing the game was so close and both teams were playing so well.  The final result was that Halifax Central squeaked out a victory and are the 2019 Teen Champions.
Congratulations to all of the teams of young, enthusiastic readers...and to all the adults who supported them.  You are all winners because you love reading!

We are particularly grateful to Penguin Random House and Tundra Books for their continued support of this terrific program.

Battle of the Books 2020

The 2020 Battle of the Books reading lists, registration and order forms are available here in PDF format.

Please note there is a section on the back of the book list that you can submit to Woozles to register your school's team for Battle of the Books 2020.

Battle of the Books Brochure

Battle of the Books 2020 Elementary List

Battle of the Books 2020 Teen List
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Battle of the Books?

Battle of the Books is a program created by Woozles in 1986 to:

  • encourage and promote the joy of reading;

  • stimulate reading beyond students' individual choices;

  • provide an opportunity to compete on a non-sports team; and

  • recognize and reward the value of teamwork and cooperation.

The competition inherent in the Battle of the Books program takes place in the context of good sportsmanship and mutual respect.

Where Did the Idea for Battle of the Books Come From?

Sometime back in the mid-80's, Liz Crocker, one of Woozles' owners, read about a competitive reading program in Beaconsfield, Quebec. This nugget of an idea blossomed into Woozles' very own Battle of the Books Program which has been running since 1986.

How Does It Work?

In early May, Woozles publishes two lists of books from which questions for the Battle of the Books games will be made - one list is for the Elementary Division and the other list is for the Teen Division. The Elementary list has approximately 60-65 titles each year and the Teen list has 50-55 titles. These lists are available in print form at Woozles or can be reviewed and downloaded from or faxed or e-mailed to you on request.

Battle of the Books has an Elementary Division and a Teen Division. The Elementary Division is for students up to and including Grade Six; the Teen Division is for students in grades 7 and higher. Typically the Elementary teams are made up of students from grades 4 to 6 (and the longer books on the list are chosen with this age group in mind) but there have been students in grades 2 and 3 who have participated in the past.

For each school who registers for Battle of the Books, a team of 4 students is formed to compete against teams from other schools. We can only accommodate one team per school.

Typically, it is a school which registers and works with their students to help them get ready for the competition. However, it is also possible for 'independent' teams to register for Battle of the Books. In cases when there is no support forthcoming from their school, students have organized on their own and registered an independent team.

While each team formally plays with four students, teams often have one or two spare players who can be substituted in if someone is sick or can't make a scheduled game. In some schools there is such enthusiasm about the program that the "spares" are routinely rotated in to give more students a chance to play.

Teams register with Woozles in the Fall, by the end of October. This gives the students at least two and a half months to read all the books on the lists. Given that the lists are published in the Spring, some students start reading the books on the lists over the summer.

Starting in January, we begin Round I. Round I consists of each team having a chance to play two games. After Round One, some teams advance to compete in Round Two. The games continue, with the Rounds getting smaller and smaller until the Final Game, typically held in May.

Except for the Final Games, all games* are held at Woozles, starting at 4 PM. Most games take about 3/4 hour to play although some have lasted more than an hour. (*Very occasionally, if there are two teams geographically close to each other outside the city, someone from Woozles has traveled to host a game in that area.)

Each game consists of 30 questions and both teams are asked these questions simultaneously. Teams have up to 90 seconds to huddle and consider their answer. When teams are ready to answer, they signify by raising their hands and whispering their answer to the game host or game assistant.

If the title is given correctly, the team scores 3 points; if the author is given correctly, the team scores an additional 2 points.

Titles and author names must be exact. Total points earned in the game determine the winner.

What Information Do Schools Need to Provide to Register?

There is a short registration form on Woozles' website (see below) or available on the back of the book lists. It is possible to register by mail, fax, phone or directly by e-mail to

We need the name, address, phone and fax number of the school; the name of the contact person at the school; the e-mail address for the contact person; and whether the registration is for the Elementary Division or the Teen Division or both.

What Are the Ingredients for Successful Participation in Battle of the Books?

  • At least four students who are keen to read lots of books and work with each other to talk about the books they have read and to quiz each other with practice questions.

  • The books on the designated list.

  • A teacher, librarian or parent (or some combination of these) to coach and help encourage the students, to make practice questions for them, and to accompany the students to the games.

  • Transportation arrangements to enable students to get to and from the games at Woozles.

What Happens If There Are More Than Four Students in the School Who Want to Play?

Many schools have a great deal of interest in Battle of the Books and have their own internal competition which helps them select which students will play on the final team. Up to two spares can also be named to a team and can rotate in if there is illness, or a scheduling problem, or just to give these extra students a chance to play. Eager students are invited to come to games to watch and cheer on their fellow students.

When are the Dates for the Games Sent Out?

Schools are asked to register by the end of October. Woozles confirms all registrations and inquires as to whether there are certain days of the week that are best for the students on the teams. The schedule for the games in Round One is sent out no later than the first week in January.

What Happens if There is a Storm?

If schools are closed because of a storm, then any Battle of the Books game is cancelled for that date and is rescheduled.

What Happens if a Student Suddenly Cannot Play?

It is virtually impossible to reschedule games on short notice. Teams are encouraged to have one or two spare players who can step in on short notice. There have been times when, even with no spares and missing two team members, a remaining team of two has been able to win their game.

How Do Teams Get All the Books Read in Time?

Often teams will divide the list among them - so if there are 70 books on the Elementary list and a team of four, each player will pick 17 or 18 books to read and summarize and tell their fellow players about....then, as time allows, each book is read by more than one player. For schools that play every year, they often have some team members returning and some of these students start reading in the summer. On the other hand, some schools don't decide to register until the end of October and they manage to come into Round I well prepared.

Who Makes Up the Battle of the Books Questions?

The staff at Woozles (and some 'friends of Woozles') read the books and make up questions which are coordinated by one person who puts together the 30 questions for each game. (For each game, the questions come from 30 different titles - there are never two questions from one book in a game.)

When we make up our questions, we try to make some that are easy and some that are more difficult...what this means is that the easier questions have more identifying clues within the question to help the students. For example, a main character might be referenced by name in an easy question whereas the main character might not even be identified by a 'he' or 'she' in a more difficult question. The more difficult questions are used in Round II and beyond.

We say a good question is one that is (a) unique to that book alone; and (b) that relates to something important in the book and its plot or characters.

Are There Any Prizes?

Every team member who plays in Battle of the Books receives a gift for participating at the end of the competition, when the Final game is played. Both teams who make it to the Finals win brand new books and gift certificates to Woozles. The two finalist schools also receive gift certificates.

How are Books Chosen for the Lists?

We take the following into consideration when selecting books for the Battle of the Books lists:

  • the book has to be in paperback (or, if rarely a hardcover is chosen, it is the same price as a paperback)

  • we include books from different genres...historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, inspiring stories, funny stories, novels about animals, and some classics...and books that appeal to both boys and girls

  • we include some very new titles and some solid backlist titles

  • we include a mix of Canadian and international titles

Where Can the Books Be Obtained?

Woozles always stocks all books on the Battle of the Books lists. Some schools review what books they already have in their school collections and then order what is missing. Other schools try to get books through their own school library and the public library system. And still other schools have PTAs which provide the funds to acquire the collections.

Any school buying any of the books from Woozles qualifies for a 20% discount (and the purchase helps support Battle of the Books).

How Much Does a Complete Set of Books Cost?

The cost varies from year to year, depending on the specific books selected. Typically, the cost for a complete set of Elementary titles costs approximately $550 (before the 20% discount); and a Teen set costs approximately $600 (before the 20% discount).

Where can I get more information and/or can I talk to someone who has done this before?

There are a number of schools who have participated for years and their teachers/librarians/parents are usually willing to give tips and advice to new "coaches".

What have people said about Battle of the Books?

Over the years we have heard from students, parents and teachers about what Battle of the Books has meant to are some sample comments:

"Thank you for organizing Battle of the Books reading competition. It was very fun and I really enjoyed it. It improved my reading ability and vocabulary. I also found some great books and book series from the list. I learned many new difficult words. I read 43 books!" (An elementary student)

"Battle of the Books has made a huge difference to our son. Not only is he doing what he loves (reading), but we have seen a huge and positive change in his self esteem." (A parent)

"I don't know of a program that does as much for improving reading skills as Battle of the Books. We've never missed a year!" (A teacher)