March Madness. Some of us don our alma mater colors, obsess over Nate Silver’s predictions, or refuse to remove our lucky socks to ensure our pick glides into the Final Four. The rest of us may scoff at the hubbub…or ignore it altogether. But whether you are mad for March or maddened by the mayhem, here’s a great way to bring the excitement into your school, classroom, library, or even your home: Battle of the Books, March Madness-style.


Create a Battle of the Books tournament and ask kids–and even adults–to vote for their favorite books and ultimately crown one winner. This can take place over a long span of time, during which participants are asked, for each round, to read two books and vote for the one that should proceed to the next round. Participants then read one new book and decide whether it will beat out the previous round’s victor.


Or brackets can be created with books that most or all of the participants have already read. This makes the timeframe for the tournament much shorter and allows a broader audience to take part, given you choose well-known titles.


Check out the Battle of the Books created by School Library Journal to see how to create brackets and for ideas of titles to use. But don’t hesitate to get creative–include titles for readers of varying levels, make the movie version battle the book upon which it is based, ask students to create persuasive essays or engage in debates to endorse their top choice, post information on the tournament at local businesses, or ask local celebrities, parents, and community members to take part. Create a bulletin board to allow participants to keep up to date on which books are battling and how to cast their vote. With a little enthusiasm, students and community members will soon be discussing which protagonist strikes a chord and waging friendly bets on their choice for the finals.


March can be a tough month in colder climes. Everyone is feeling a little antsy for spring warmth, and spring vacation is still weeks away. A heated Battle of the Books can be just the thing to put some pizzazz in everyone’s winter-laden world.


Photos: Gretchen’s alma mater the University of Vermont (, which, sadly, did not make the 2014 tournament; Duncan’s alma mater Vanderbilt (, whose women’s team, sadly, was just eliminated by Arizona State.

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