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Best Read Aloud? PQ Holds Book Bracket Battle

Students face off over which book is the best read aloudAfter a month of colorful illustrations and silly voices, the choice came down to the final two undefeated contestants: an alligator and a worm.

On one side of the tournament bracket was a comedic tale about a hungry alligator whose devious plan leads to a change of heart. “Chez Bob” by Bob Shea faced off with “Ear Worm” by Jo Knowles, a story about a little worm on a musical mission. Students laughed along with the alligator’s antics and burst into song to accompany the worm and his friends.

March Madness at Pequenakonck Elementary School has a unique literary spin. Students vote to award one book the coveted “Best Read Aloud.” Previous winners are “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan T. Higgins and “Alfred’s Books of Monsters” by Sam Streed.

Library media specialist Natalie Koehler invited fifth-grade students to read and rank picture books to select 16 for a book bracket. “Students reflected on what makes a good read aloud. Is it the illustrations, the story arc, the characters, the rhyming, the humor?” she said.

All month long, Koehler read two books at a time to classes in all grades and tallied the students’ votes. The book with the most votes advanced to the next round until only two books remained. The school community tracked the book bracket updates on the library wall.

On the final day of the competition, Koehler read the books for two fifth-grade classes before they voted.

Parker debated his decision. “‘Chez Bob’ has more detail in the story, but I loved the chipmunk from ‘Ear Worm,’” he said.

His classmate Emma used personal experience to help make a decision. “I’m voting for ‘Ear Worm’ because little kids will like it more. My sister has been singing the songs around the house ever since she read it,” she said. However, Nick voted against Ear Worm because he disliked that the songs were already stuck in his head.

Meanwhile, Omari was actively campaigning for his classmates to vote for “Chez Bob,” which was not challenging as many students wanted the book to win due to its humor.

“We were all laughing at the alligator,” said Madison before voting.

Shortly before dismissal, “Chez Bob” was announced as the winner, and cheers rang throughout the hallways.

“There’s fun in finding a book that’s great to read aloud and sharing the joy and humor of picture books. The whole school can share in our culture of reading,” said Koehler.