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Battle of the Books

What BoB Means to Brandy Painter

Basketball, Books, and Brandy

I have lived most of my adult life in the south, for many years in North Carolina, home of the great Duke vs. UNC rivalry. I now reside in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the University of Tennessee, Pat Summitt, and the Lady Vols. I also grew up in the home of a college sports enthusiast, so I am no stranger to the madness that is March Madness. It always bewildered me. Why people would argue the chances of teams, discuss the strengths and weaknesses in certain match ups, yell at their TV screens when a referee made a call they didn’t like (“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” is a favorite phrase of my father’s), and feel a sense of melancholy when their team is defeated, none of it made sense to me.

Then I discovered The Battle of the Kids’ Books and I understood. When you care about something enough, when it interests you enough, you invest a bit of yourself in it, and while I have absolutely zero interest in basketball I have a great deal of interest in children’s books. I am so excited when the list of chosen books is released every year to see what personal favorites did or didn’t make it, and what books I haven’t yet read did. I look forward to seeing what authors will be judging. On days results are posted I try to look them up as quickly as possible to see who has won. I have been witnessed yelling, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” at my computer screen (last year-A Conspiracy of Kings vs. Countdown). I love the process, the discussion, the community, and how much fun it all is.

Impassioned children’s book enthusiasts are harder to locate than basketball enthusiasts and it is nice to know that there are places, like this, where I can find my people.

And of course I love the books.

Not just the books I choose to champion each year from my arm chair either. It is also about all the books I have been convinced to read because they have been spoken of so highly by the judges. Books I may never have been motivated enough to pick up otherwise because they were outside of what I normally enjoy reading.  Then there are the well-articulated arguments of the judges themselves, which often cause me to go in search of their books if I haven’t read them before (even when I don’t agree with their conclusions).

It’s also lovely to come every year to this place where, even when we disagree on particulars, we all share the same passion for words and story.  Impassioned children’s book enthusiasts are harder to locate than basketball enthusiasts and it is nice to know that there are places, like this, where I can find my people.

Brandy Painter grew up in a military family so her life was always in some form of transition. Through all the changes she could always rely on the two things that stayed with her wherever she went: her amazingly wonderful family and her books. Reading started as something she did to stave off boredom as a 2nd grader newly arrived in England with no friends, and turned into a passion. From a desire to share this passion with others Brandy became a teacher. She taught 5th grade for four years until the birth of her daughter. That daughter is now a 2nd grader whom she homeschools along with her preschool age brother. In addition to teaching her own children, Brandy teach the elementary level Literature classes in the homeschool cooperative they belong to and blogs at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.


  1. I must confess to loving both — the Battle of the Kids’ Books and March Madness. I too look to see which book won as soon as I get up each morning but I also eagerly look forward to watching my beloved Heels play in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

    I’m about half-way through my last book and really find myself in a quandary this year. This is such an incredible list that I’m having trouble find a personal favorite and also a struggle predicting who will go on in each round. I’ll read a book and think, “That’s it!” and then I’ll read the next book and be totally confused again.

  2. I really like finding “my people” this way, too! And such fun that we’re getting to find out more about some this year.

  3. Paige-There are a lot of really amazing books this year. I do have a personal favorite but there are so many others that come close I won’t mind at all if they win instead. Lucky you having two events you can look forward to in the month of March. (My husband is a Heels fan too.)

    Sondy-I know! I have really enjoyed these fan posts.

  4. Brandy, I love how you took a look back into your childhood remembering NCAA March Madness and compared it to the book bracket and how you identify with the BoB. After Christmas, March Madness is my favorite time of year because of basketball, but it doesn’t take me away from my reading. Thank you for introducing me to BoB. I am enjoying trying to read as many as possible and cheering particular books on through my computer and in my heart. I wonder if I’ll throw my hands up in air and high five someone when a book I love wins.

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