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Battle of the Books

What BoB Means to Kathy Burnette

Let’s Get Ready to RRRUUMMBBLLEE!

About 2 ½ years ago, in the summer of 2009, I was interning at the wonderful St. Joseph County Public Library, and Kris, the children’s librarian, had me working on the list for that year’s Mock Newbery club. I was so excited, because I’d always wanted to run a Mock club but wasn’t sure how that worked.  Kris had actually been on a Newbery committee and had done this for a number of years, so I was learning from the best! I was introduced to School Library Journal’s Heavy Medal club – looking at books they had on their list for when they came back online, and found something called The Battle of the Kid’s Books. What was this wonderful sounding thing?

It turned out that each year, the Battle Commanders would bring together 16 of the best books of the past year – award winners and books with awesome kid appeal – and pit them against each other! Each bracket was judged by an incredible children’s author! OMG! This was (one of) my dream(s) come true! Who had thought of such a wonderful thing and how had I, a middle school librarian, not known about it?? And, most importantly, why was it already over??????

The BotKB is like Christmas (insert holiday where you receive lots of presents), my birthday, and summer all rolled into one!

Since then, I’ve been hooked. Each year, I wish there was a way to integrate this into my school library, but the fast pace and the required units our teachers have to do, make it difficult. But, I read and buy these books for our school library. Last year, I actually read all but one of the books and wrote about them on my blog. This year, in addition to reading all 16 books and picking my winners on the blog, I will be talking them up on our school news! Each week I will highlight a different title! That’s about 800 students who will get to hear about these great books! I started with Anya’s Ghost and all copies were checked out by lunchtime!

So, what does The Battle of the Kid’s Books mean to me? The BotKB is like Christmas (insert holiday where you receive lots of presents), my birthday, and summer all rolled into one!  It’s a way to highlight good books that might have been overlooked, a chance to interact with other lovers of MG/YA books, and an opportunity to celebrate a world that has given me so much. I’m so glad I found them and you will be too!

Kathy Burnette has been an avid middle school librarian for the past 6 years and loves her job. Before that she taught K, 1, and 2nd grade. She’s also a mom, blogger, and avid tweeter. When Kathy grows up, she’d like to own a teen-centered bookstore/hangout place. Visit Kathy at her blog The Brain Lair.


  1. And don’t forget the other major benefit of BoB – making friends. Kathy found me on Goodreads during last years Battle and then I subsequently found her on Twitter. I love being able to network with smart people.

  2. Danae, you are right, the people! I love having a PLN based on reading! I would have missed out on some of the books BOB brings but also that the community lists in the comments!

  3. This is so fun getting to know some other people who are as hooked on BoB as I am! That’s awesome that you can get your kids following the Battle, to some extent. At the public library, we don’t have such a captive audience, and once our one copy is checked out, it’s hard to push a book!

  4. Sam Bloom says

    “This was (one of) my dream(s) come true!” <– I’m stealing this line… hilarious! Applies to me in so many facets of my daily life!

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