District Message about Battle of the Books

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This message is about the school district's participation in the 2018-19 Oregon Battle of the Books.

History: The Pendleton School District has long participated in the Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB). Each year OBOB selects 16 titles for the Grade 3-5 and Grade 6-8 divisions. Books are selected on a variety of subjects, plots, settings and styles. OBOB strives to find balance in titles that are of interest to boys and girls, and maturity level within each level. In addition, a variety of genres are selected including fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, multicultural and Oregon representation.

Final selections for each age group are determined based upon quality, reviews and age-appropriate titles. Although not always true, titles that have been recognized by such organizations as Newbery, Oregon Reader’s Choice and Scholastic Press are given preference.

2018-19 Selections: Without exception, each year there are titles selected that may not meet the values, standards or age-appropriateness view of some of our families. It appears there is at least one selection at the Grade 3-5 Level for the 18-19 competition that has created some concern among parents and school districts around the state. The title in question is George by Alex Gino. The book is about a 10-year-old transgender student who identifies as a girl.

The District’s Position: At this time, the Pendleton School District intends to continue our relationship and participation in the Oregon Battle of the Books. We do so for the following reasons:

  1. Each year there have been, and will be in the future, titles that are called to attention for their age-appropriateness and quality.
  2. Participation is voluntary in that students do not have to read all titles for their age group.
  3. There is nothing requiring a title on the list to be read by any team member.

The overall goal of OBOB is to promote literacy and reading and expose students to high-quality literature. I believe the 18-19 titles continue with that mission. I also believe that parents should be involved and supportive of their children’s education and activities. After reviewing the titles, parents and students should exercise their right to participate or not and to decide what titles are of interest and appropriate for them.

Thank you for your time.

Chris Fritsch

If you would like to learn more about Oregon Battle of the Books, please visit the Oregon Battle of the Books website.

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