Battle of the Books Rules and Procedures

presented by Howard County Library System and the Howard County Public School System

2016 Coach’s Handbook Battle of the Books logo

Check In Procedures

  1. A team consists of five students. Each student must turn in a signed participation form and photo release form to compete.
  2. Each team must have at least three students checked-in at their Battle location by 6:45 pm. If at least three students are not present at this time, the team will be disqualified. After 6:45 pm, no other team members will be allowed to participate.
  3. Each team must have an adult coach present at the Battle. In case of an emergency which prevents a coach from being present, another adult must take the coach’s place or the team will be disqualified.
  4. Coaches or their designees check in and receive their information packets starting at 5:45 pm. Coaches then proceed to the designated staging area to await the arrival of their students.
  5. Upon check in, coaches receive a packet of pencils, answer sheets, and other supplies, as well as a packet of certificates for their team members.
  6. If accompanying their coach, students will be allowed to check in at 5:45 pm. Otherwise, student check-in begins at 6 pm.
  7. Once students have checked in, they will be accompanied to the designated staging area for team pictures and to line up for the procession into the gym.
  8. No cell phones, electronic devices, or other reading materials will be allowed on the gym floor by coaches or students.

How the Battle is Played

  1. Team members sit together on a mat on a grid on a school gymnasium floor. A chair will be provided for each coach. No blankets, pillows, or sit-upons will be permitted on the floor. For safety reasons, no items may extend beyond team grid spaces. Items in the aisles will be removed.
  2. While coaches march in with their teams, they do not sit with their team during the Battle. Coaches sit with another team, and are expected to moderate and encourage that team. The emcee will instruct coaches when to move.
  3. The moderator asks questions about the books. The moderator reads each question only two times.
  4. The Battle includes at least one question about each book.
  5. Four different types of questions may be asked (see p. 5).
  6. Teams have 30 seconds to quietly discuss and record their answers. The scribe (team member designated to write the answer) writes the title and author on an answer sheet. Answers are strictly from memory. No notes or books may be used.
  7. When the 30 seconds are up, time is called, all pencils must be put down, and the answer sheets must be held up by the scribe to be collected by a volunteer. Even if the team did not record an answer, the blank answer sheet will still be collected.
  8. After the answer sheets are collected and delivered to the scorekeeper’s table, the moderator announces the answer to the audience.
  9. A coach must make any allegations of cheating to a staff member before the start of the next round. The matter will be taken to the head judge for a ruling.

Costume & Sign Reminders

  1. Team shirts, spirit wear, and/or costumes are encouraged.
  2. Images and/or titles relating to the books and/or their authors are not permitted.
  3. Often the gyms are hot, so keep that in mind when creating costumes.
  4. Masks and face painting are allowed, but make sure that students can see, and won’t be too hot with face paint.
  5. When using props, please remember that props must fit inside the 5′ x 7′ foot space.
  6. Students may not be carried in on platforms, in boxes, canoes, etc.
  7. To avoid tripping hazards, please refrain from using cumbersome props or decorations like feathers that easily detach from costumes. As a reminder, no roller blades, skateboards, cleats, high heels, or other footwear that could damage a gym floor are permitted.
  8. Signs must be no larger than 22″ x 28″.
  9. Team name and school name should be on the sigh.
  10. The sign will need to fit in the 5′ x 7′ space.
  11. Books titles, authors, and characters are not permitted on the signs.

Answering and Scoring

  1. All scores are based on written answers only.
  2. Each question is worth two points. Each round will contain one bonus Battle question worth double points (four total).
  3. Each team has the potential to earn one point for the correct title AND one point for the correct author. However, BOTH title AND author must be correct to earn the points. No points are awarded if either the title or author is incorrect. In other words, the only way to receive two points is to write the correct title AND the correct author on the answer sheet.
  4. The correct title will be counted as one point if no author is given. Points will not be awarded if the title is blank and the correct author is listed. Therefore, if a team is sure of a title, but does not know the author, it is to the team’s advantage to leave the author blank.
  5. Please refer to the 2015-16 Battle of the Books book list for the list of titles and authors (p. 10).
    • Subtitles do not need to be included in the answer for it to be correct. Anything after the colon is considered a subtitle.
    • The words “A,” “An,” or “The” in the beginning of titles can be omitted.
    • Both the first and last name of the author must be included to receive a point.
    • The author’s middle name or middle initial is not required (exception: the author’s first name is multiple initials, such as J. K. Rowling).
    • Answers do not have to be spelled correctly, but they must be close enough so the scorekeeper can read and understand the answer.
    • Because cover art may differ between hardcover and paperback editions, no questions will be asked about book covers, back matter, or inside flaps.
  6. The Battle of the Books head judge is the final authority on correct or incorrect answers.
  7. The team with the most points at the end of the final round will be the winner. In the event of a first-place tie, those teams will participate in a “tiebreaker” round.
    • First-place tied teams will be invited to come to the front of the grid and answer five questions.
    • After scores for those questions are tallied, the moderator will announce the first place and second place winners. However, if teams are still tied, the Battle goes into sudden death.
      • Sudden death consists of an additional set of five questions.
      • After each question is read, the teams submit their answer and the moderator will announce whether teams are still tied or if one is the winner.
      • If after the fifth question teams are still tied, both teams are awarded first place.
      • Based on the Standard Competition Ranking, if teams are still tied after the fifth question, those teams will be awarded first place. The next highest scoring team will be awarded third place (i.e., two first place teams and one third place team). If three or more teams are tied for first place, there will be no further ranking.
  8. Winners are determined and awarded at each location.
  9. Overall winners and category winners will be posted on the HCLS web site the week following the Battle.
  10. Coaches can request their team score after the event by emailing

Prizes (at each location)

  • Each member of the three top-scoring teams (first, second, and third place) at each location receives a gift card from a local bookstore, a medal, and a personalized team READ poster.
  • The schools of the three top-scoring teams at each location receive trophies. Trophies will be delivered to the winning schools after the competition.
  • Prizes awarded to teams at each location for Best Costume, Best Team Name, Best Team Spirit, and Best Civility (best sportsmanship).
  • All students receive a Certificate of Participation.

Types of Questions
The answer to any type of question is always the title of the book and the author.

A direct quote from one of the characters
Q: “I am nothing but a half-crazed, feather-headed old maid.”
A: Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck

Q: “What is a library?”
A: Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair by Patricia Polacco

A statement about something that happens in the book

Q: In which book does a family’s special friend arrive inside the coat of a man looking for a job?
A: How It Was With Dooms by Xan Hopcraft

Q: In which book do we learn that King Louis XIV had a collection of 413 different beds?
A: The Complete Book of the Night by Sally Tagholm

A passage directly from the book

Q: “Her hair was yellow and her face was yellow because she had always been ill in one way or another.”
A: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Q: “Out of all of his dreams, his was the one he liked the best, even if it seemed to be the one most out of his reach.”
A: Heat by Mike Lupica

Details about an illustration or picture

Q: In which book does a nasty lady wear crescent moon earrings?
A: The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka

Q: In which book will you find illustrations of water ballet moves?
A: Regarding the Fountain: A Tale in Letters, of Liars and Leaks by Kate Kils


2016 Book List

Printable version
Online version

Sample Questions
Information for coaches
Rules and Procedures
Frequently Asked Questions