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Overview

The Battle of the Books is a reading competition for deaf and hard of hearing students in grades 5-8. Students across the nation read the same assigned books and then compete against each other by answering true or false, short answer, multiple choice, and presentation style questions about the books they read. The competition promotes literacy among deaf and hard of hearing students and is rooted in a spirit of academic competition and sportsmanship.

There are three divisions to accommodate participants’ varied reading levels. The Bison division is reserved for 3rd and 4th grade reading levels; the Blue division is reserved for 5th and 6th grade reading levels; and the Buff division is reserved for 7th grade reading level and above.

The competition includes preliminaries, the playoffs, and the national competition. In the preliminaries, teams compete with rival schools and programs around the nation, providing an excellent opportunity for these students to meet other deaf and hard of hearing students their age who enjoy reading as well. The top performing teams advance to the playoffs where the presentation round is introduced. Of these, six final teams are invited to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. for the national competition. All transportation, lodging, and meals for the National-bound teams are covered by the Gallaudet University Youth Programs office.

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FAQs

Common Questions
Players and chaperones will stay at the Gallaudet University Kellogg Conference Center and Hotel in Washington, D.C. Parents, school administrators, and other fans are welcome to make their own arrangements at the same hotel or another local hotel.
Chaperones are responsible for supervising their students between the time they arrive on campus on Saturday and the time they leave for the airport on Tuesday morning. During the day, chaperones will be responsible for supervising their students. We will provide a nighttime supervisor who will stay up all night and keep an eye on the students while they are sleeping in the hotel rooms. Chaperones will not be allowed to leave their team to go off campus at any time during the competition period.
Gallaudet will take care of the travel arrangements and will attempt to fly teams into the closest airport, which is Reagan Washington (DCA).
At the very least, all teams should be available to register for the competition on the day of registration in Washington, D.C. If teams prefer to arrive a day or two earlier to do some sightseeing in Washington, D.C., they are more than welcome to do so with the understanding that accommodations, transportation, and meals prior to registration will be at their own expense. Teams can also choose to depart later but at their own expense after the competition ends.
Gallaudet will cover team members and chaperones meals for specific days. Teams will need to cover any meals before or after this time range, including meals during transit. Please contact us for information on meal menu and schedule.
Depending on the weather, we may have a night tour of D.C. on Saturday evening. On Sunday, teams will not have time to go off on their own due to a full slate of matches and other activities.
Please see the front page of the Battle of the Books (BOTB) Rules and Guidelines Manual for the most up-to-date and relevant competition dates.
We no longer have a national competition for the Green Division. It is difficult to find enough books for the Green Division every year. Most books at the 2nd/3rd/4th-grade levels have content that are more appropriate for the 7-9 age group rather than the 11-14 age group that our Battle of the Books participants fall into. There are not enough potential book selections for us to be able to choose seven books from every year. We end up choosing books from the same book series every year (i.e. Magic Tree House, Goosebumps, etc). We also want to encourage students who are reading at the 3rd/4th-grade levels to aim high and work hard towards moving up to the Blue Division (and eventually, Buff) in order to be able to qualify for the national competition. We will invite the winner of the Green Division (as determined by the Green Playoff results) to the national competition as special guests so there will still be that lure for Green Division players.
Families and visitors are more than welcome to watch the preliminary competition at their children’s schools. For the national competition, the schedule will be posted on the website. There is no charge to attend. The championship matches will also be webcasted live on Gallaudet’s website. Families are more than welcome to travel to the national competition to support their child(ren).
See the Chaperones FAQ (found in Chaperones’ Corner) for more information on how to prepare your team for the competition.
For all questions related to the Battle of the Books competition, you can contact the Youth Programs Operations Specialist at Gallaudet.
Gallaudet’s Battle of the Books is a competition sponsored by Gallaudet University. There are three divisions in the competition: students who read at the 3rd/4th-grade levels, 5th/6th-grade levels, and 7th grade level and above. The division names are as follows:
  • Buff – One of Gallaudet’s primary colors. The Buff Division consists of students who read at the 7th-grade level or above.
  • Blue– Also one of Gallaudet’s primary colors. The Blue Division consists of students who read at the 5th- and 6th-grade levels.
  • Green– Named after Gallaudet’s storied Kendall Green. The Green Division consists of students who read at the 3rd- and 4th-grade levels.
The purpose of the Battle of the Books competition is to promote literacy among deaf and hard of hearing middle school students. The competition also helps promote a spirit of academic competition and good sportsmanship and encourages critical thinking skills among middle school students.
During the preliminary portion of the competition, each school will have its schedule determined by the Youth Programs office. Each school will play a total of three matches via videophone. All schools must have videophone or webcam capabilities in order to participate. A room at the school or program must be designated as the competition room during the assigned days and times for the participating team. If an interpreter is needed, a team may use someone from the competing school. Points from each of the three matches that the teams play will be added. We will count only the points, not the wins and losses. Points from each of the three matches that teams play will be added up (we will count only the points, not the wins and losses). The top 12 teams from the Buff Division, the top 16 teams from the Blue Division, and the top 6 teams from the Green Division will then be invited to the Playoffs portion of the competition. For the Playoffs, teams will have one match via videophone with judges at Gallaudet. The points earned during the Playoff match will determine which teams are invited to the national competition. The top 8 teams from the Buff Division playoffs will get an all-expenses paid trip to Gallaudet for the national competition. The top 8 teams from the Blue Division playoffs will get an all-expenses paid trip to Gallaudet for the national competition. The top team from the Green Division playoffs will get an all-expenses paid trip to Gallaudet for the national competition. ***The competition format is different for the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please refer to our Rules and Guidelines manual.***
Preliminaries: Each Preliminary match will consist of two rounds— designated Round One and Round Two. The two rounds are played consecutively, with two-minute breaks in between. Round 1 will consist of 12 Multiple Choice, True or False, and Short Answer questions in which team members will be allowed to discuss amongst each other before submitting the answers. Round 2 will consist of 12 Multiple Choice, True or False, and Short Answer questions in which team members will be allowed to discuss amongst each other before submitting the answers. Playoffs: The Playoff match will consist of three rounds – designated Round One, Round Two, and the Final Round. The three rounds are played consecutively, with two-minute breaks in between. The same type of questions are used for Rounds One and Two. The Final Round will consist of 3 presentation-style questions in which team members will take turns giving answers. Each of the three players will be answering one question with no help from teammates. A list of questions will be provided right before the Final Round begins so that teammates can assign themselves to the three questions. More details are shared in the Rules and Guidelines Manual, including details about the National competition format.
Policies and Information
There is no limit to the number of schools that can participate in the Battle of the Books competition. Each school can register up to three teams (one team per division).
Each team must have a minimum of three players. There is no limit to the number of players on a team, but a maximum of nine players is suggested so each player has a chance to play in one or more preliminary matches. A more comfortable number would be 4 or 5 players per tea to give each player enough playing time.
All participating schools for the Green Division will be expected to pay a $100 registration fee to help offset Battle of the Books operating costs. All participating schools for the Buff and Blue Division will be expected to pay a $250 registration fee. If a school participates in more than one division, they are expected to pay the registration fee for each team. ***For the 2020-2021 school year, there is NO fee to participate as the competition will be fully virtual this year.***
For the Preliminary competition, it is up to the participating schools to decide how to purchase books that the students need for the competition. Some schools obtain money from sponsors or a foundation to purchase the books. Some schools purchase the books using allocated money for books. Some schools have students’ families purchase the books. The list of books will be shared with each chaperone. For the National competition, Gallaudet pays for the books and ships them to schools. The books should then be kept by the students.
If your team needs to withdraw from the competition, please inform the Youth Programs Director immediately. The registration fee is non-refundable after a certain date.
The Battle of the Books is open to teams of middle school students currently enrolled in recognized schools or programs for deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. Schools or programs may be residential schools, day schools, mainstream programs, or any other type of educational program having middle-school age deaf or hard of hearing students. The Director of Youth Programs and Outreach shall determine what constitutes “recognized schools or programs.” Where a single school or program does not have enough students to field its own Battle of the Books team, teams may be assembled by combining students from two or more schools or programs in reasonable proximity to each other. In some cases, as in a school in a rural area, the school may petition in writing, for special consideration by the Director of Youth Programs and Outreach to include a larger radius. Other options are for a mainstreamed or home-schooled student to join the team of a local school or program for the deaf. All written petitions for special consideration will be considered by the Director of Youth Programs and Outreach.

Contact Us

Battle of the Books

Jesse Saunders

Peet Hall 412

(202) 651-5000

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