Name That Book contests make developing literacy skills fun

Sometimes a little friendly competition can turn a task one has to do into an activity one wants to do. Such has certainly been the case with HISD’s annual Name That Book competition. It began almost 30 years ago at River Oaks Elementary School, and it became so popular that it eventually expanded districtwide and now serves students in grades K-12.

The basic structure of the contest has remained the same over the years: students are challenged to read 30 or more age-appropriate books from an approved list over a period of several months, then compete on teams to see who can correctly identify the largest number of titles, based on particular quotes read aloud. Teams with the highest number of correct titles are deemed the winners—but the truth is that every child benefits by participating.

“The great thing about Name That Book competitions is that they encourage students to do something we want them to do anyway: read for pleasure,” said HISD Director of Literacy Cindy Puryear. “Not only are they cultivating a life-long love of reading, they’re also building their comprehension and memory skills. After all, just scanning the words to get the gist of a book’s subject will not be enough. They have to understand and remember what they’ve read and figure out which book a line was pulled from based on context. Those are higher-level thinking skills, and they are exactly what we’re aiming to develop with Literacy By 3.”

Name That Book competitions are coordinated by HISD’s Department of Library Services. The 2015 finals have been underway since early March and will conclude on April 10 with the high-school-age contest. Be sure to check out the April 17 edition of eNews for a complete list of winners.