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March Madness: Battle of the Books

Learning Area: English Language Arts
Best for: Can be adapted to any age or grade level

Get students excited about new books and reading for pleasure by setting up a March Madness tournament of books! Students will engage with the books all month, vote, and determine a winning book. The best part: one lucky student (or your whole class) gets a copy of the winning book!


  • List of 16 books
  • Bulletin board (and boarder or décor to fancy it up)
  • Black paper
  •  Staples
  • Chalk markers
  • Picture of each chosen book’s cover
  • Ballots
  • Winning book to giveaway (to be determined)


1. Make your bulletin board. Using the black paper and stapler, set up the back of your bulletin board. Add any boarder or décor. Draw your bracket using chalk markers, and add a title for the bulletin board.

2. Choose 16 books—these can be your own choice from your own classroom library, books that you think students may like but have not yet picked up to read, or the most popular books currently—and hang their pictures on the bulletin board.
*Note: You will need extra pictures of each cover to display which books win and move to the next round.

3. Once your bulletin board is set up and your competing books are established, you can now make your ballots for round one. Write the title of each book in a match, as they appear on the bulletin board. When students vote, they will circle which title they choose for each match. You should have 16 ballots for each individual bracket in round one.

4. Introduce the bulletin board to your class by explaining what it is, how it will be used, and what happens at the end!

5. Do brief book talks on the ones “competing” so the students who have not had a chance to read it can see beyond the cover, be introduced—and hopefully excited to read it on their own—and fairly vote. Choose one bracket each day for the book talks, and have students vote for that bracket at the end of the day. Tally the votes and move the winning book to the next bracket. Repeat until all 16 books have competed and round one is complete.

6. Make ballots for round two using the same method as before.

7. For the second round of voting, eight books remain. With these remaining books, allow students to share their prediction about what they think will happen in each book, now that they have an idea what each book is about. Vote for each bracket, tally the votes, and move the winning books to the next bracket.

8. Make ballots for round three.

9. For the third round of voting, four books remain. Choose a random page from each book to read aloud to the class. Involve the students—when flipping through the book, have the students shout “stop” to determine which page you read from each book. Vote for each bracket, tally the votes, and move the winning books to the next bracket.
10. Make ballots for the championship.

11. For the final round of voting, go online. Read reviews of each book. See what others are saying about the books! Vote, tally the votes, and determine the winner.

12. Celebrate the winning book: read the book as a class and give a copy of the winning book away. Use a lottery system to determine who wins the book, or give a copy to the entire class. Give away a certificate of the winning book if you don’t have one on hand until the book arrives.


Pro Tip: This could be adapted school wide by breaking it down into grade ranges and using bulletin boards in the hallway. Ask your librarian for help! One, or a few, students can be selected to receive a copy of the winning book.

Originally posted 2022

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