GREENFIELD — Bookworms became trivia nuts Wednesday in a fierce competition for area teens.
The annual Battle of the Books had 30 local eighth- and ninth-graders duke it out for a traveling trophy and other prizes at the Hancock County Public Library.
And while plenty of Mountain Dew and pizza kept them energized for the five-hour event, perhaps the best prize was being rewarded for a favorite pastime.
“You can get all worked up about books, and nobody can judge you about it,” said Hannah Barker, a St. Michael School eighth-grader.
The battle had students answer questions from nine books they’ve read over the last few months. There were five teams from local junior high and high schools, and just before the competition students were fidgety and anxious to get started.
Hannah was part of the smallest team, but all four members were optimistic they’d excel.
“Everyone else has more people than us, which will make it harder on us because they’ll have more brains to pick from,” said Isaac Plouch.
“We’ve got this in the bag,” added Sam Tiede.
The St. Michael team members quietly whispered answers to each other, getting nearly every one correct in the first round. The foursome had become closer friends throughout the last few months, chit-chatting about books during their recess and lunch breaks at school.
For Cameron Rader, the weeks leading up to the competition were rewarding on their own because reading takes him away from his normal routine.
“I feel like I’m the main character in the book, and I like that,” he said.
That transcending power of reading is music to the ears of staffers at the library.
“They’re reading enthusiasts. They just love the books; they gobble them up,” said Sarah Ryan, teen librarian.
Ryan said she picked books that are popular among today’s teens and even added a graphic novel this year to encourage participants to stretch beyond their comfort zone.
The annual competition has been going on at least a decade. Ryan contacted the school librarians ,about the event in December and teams were formed based on interest.
The top prize is a traveling trophy and the team’s name on a plaque in the teen room. First through third-place teams also got to choose from a shelf of free books – something perhaps even more exciting than the trophy.
Doe Creek eighth-grader Hannah Akers, wearing a goofy black hat with dangling eyeballs, was staring at that pile of books hoping she’d get her hands on some of them.
“I want to get a few more,” she said.
Greenfield-Central High School ninth-graders were back for their second year at the competition. They couldn’t recall exactly where they landed in the contest last year, but they were trying to avenge their disappointing loss.
“You get a chance to be competitive about it, and it’s fun to see other people do that,” said Rebekah Gottwald. “There’s just this silent thing like, ‘I want to win.’”