The Fictionaries

Milton Public Library’s own The Fictionaries won the first-ever Rock County Teen Battle of the Books held this month at Hedberg Public Library in Janesville. Team members include Claire Lebakken, Grace Van Den Heuvel and Emily Lebakken, all age 13.

The Fictionaries, a team of three Milton teens, won the first-ever Rock County Teen Battle of the Books held this month at Hedberg Public Library in Janesville. The event was sponsored by the public libraries in Rock County and the Arrowhead Library System. Eleven teams of teens (ages 11 to 14) from seven public libraries competed. 

The Fictionaries included Grace Van Den Heuvel, Claire Lebakken and Emily Lebakken, all age 13.

Librarians met in March to discuss event details and put together a book list. They chose six books they thought would appeal to a wide range of reading levels and interests within the program’s age range. The books were:

  • “El Deafo” by CeCe Bell (a graphic novel)
  • “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel” by Ransom Riggs
  • “One Came Home” by Amy Timberlake
  • “The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim” by E.K. Johnston
  • “A Time to Dance” by Padma Venkatraman
  • “Ungifted” by Gordon Korman

Several librarians then read the books and created questions for the competition.

Teens could register as individuals or teams.

They then read books over the summer that they may not have read if they were not a part of this program.

“Not only were they reading the books, they were thinking about them and retaining information,” said Ashlee Kunkel, the Milton Public Library young adult librarian who came up with the idea for the event and helped coordinate it.

Teens, working together as teams, also had the opportunity to meet other library teens.

During the competition teens answered questions using Kahoot, a game-based classroom response system.

“Kahoot put a fun, technological spin on the competition, and many teens were already familiar with it because it is popular in the classroom,” Kunkel said.

Each team was issued an iPad Mini, provided by the Arrowhead Library System, and all questions were projected onto a screen for teams and audience members to see. Teams earned points based on whether they answered the questions correctly and how quickly they answered the questions.

“What I enjoyed most was seeing the room full of teens, family members and proud librarians; a culmination of everyone’s hard work,” Kunkel said. “The energy in the room was also fantastic. The teens were so intense and competitive.”

The competition was scheduled to go three rounds with 50 questions each, but was cut short due to Wi-Fi issues and a tornado warning. After two rounds, The Fictionaries won with a score of 91,780. Next were OPL (Orfordville Public Library), 5 Muskareaders from Hedberg, and We be Bookin’ from Milton.

The first-place trophy won by The Fictionaries is on display at the Milton Public Library.

Kunkel reports positive feedback from teens and parents.

“Libraries and librarians working together can create some really great results,” she said. “Also, teens are readers. Maybe it was the competitive side of the competition, but I was surprised at the number of participants and so happy that each library was able to put together a team.”

For a first-time event, she said the competition went smoothly and was a learning opportunity.

“We’ll definitely change some things for next year,” Kunkel said. “For example, we know to have a bigger space during the actual event so teams can spread out. Also, we had issues with Wi-Fi, and we’re already planning on using hot spots and stronger internet connections. If word spreads about this, and more teams sign up, we’ll definitely need to guarantee that the internet will not go out in the middle of the competition. Almost all the teens I talked to said they want to do it again next year.”

Plans are under way for the Rock County Battle of the Books to return next summer with a new booklist.

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