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Champions crowned in SBCEO’s 2023 Battle of the Books 

Battle of the Books winners

193 students representing 37 schools compete in friendly competition of literary wit


May 3, 2023

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CA - Elementary and junior high students throughout Santa Barbara County competed in Santa Barbara County Education Office’s 22nd annual Battle of the Books competition series, a voluntary reading program that encourages students to read books from a designated list, and culminates in three friendly “battles” of reading comprehension skills through questions on plot, characters, and theme.

193 4th-8th grade students participated in the three unique events, which included an Elementary Individual Virtual Battle, an Elementary Group In-Person Battle, and a Junior High School Individual Virtual Battle. During the Elementary Battle on April 27, students were placed on teams with their peers from different schools. Teams were quizzed on 28 titles during three nail-biting rounds, ending with the final Battle Royale showcasing the two top teams. Guest author, Bruce Hale, led the final battle. The first place team also received signed copies of his latest book, Switched.

As an added feature this year, students from Arthur Hapgood Elementary School also participated in a pilot Spanish language version of the event, Partido de los Libros, which translates to Game or Scrimmage of the Books. This event was hosted in anticipation of a full Batalla de los Libros to be hosted by the Santa Barbara County Education Office in the 2023-2024 school year. More details will be released in Fall 2023.

The winners of the Elementary Individual Virtual Battle, held on April 19, 2023, are (in alphabetical order):

  • Verenise Garcia Ramirez, 6th grade, George Washington Battles Elementary (Santa Maria-Bonita School District)

  • Sherab Wangmo, 5th grade, La Patera Elementary School (Goleta Union School District)

  • Sieun Yoo, 6th grade, Isla Vista Elementary School (Goleta Union School District)

The winners of the Elementary Group In-Person Battle, hosted on April 27, 2023, are:

  • 1st place team members: Margot Bruneel of La Patera Elementary School (5th grade), Mara DiGuilio of Monroe Elementary School (4th grade), Layla Foster of Canalino Elementary School (5th grade), Rhett Hain of Buena Vista Elementary School (4th grade), Lei-anna Navarro of Ellwood Elementary School (5th grade), and Maia Weld of Adams Elementary School (6th grade)

  • 2nd place team members: Ava Bethlenfalvay of Buena Vista Elementary School (6th grade), Alexandria Grote of Ellwood Elementary School (4th grade), Jane Hanson of Mountain View Elementary School (5th grade), Lalani Resendemembez of Washington Elementary School (6th grade), and Ishaan Srivastav of Foothill Elementary School (6th grade)

The winners of the Junior High School Individual Virtual Battle, hosted on May 3, 2023, are (in alphabetical order):

  • Makayla Cain, 7th grade, Vandenberg Middle School (Lompoc Unified School District)

  • Sharli Syed, 8th grade, Vandenberg Middle School (Lompoc Unified School District)

  • Rachel Torres, 8th grade, Fesler Junior High School (Santa Maria-Bonita School District)

“It is so special to see students from all corners of our county come together and share their passion for reading,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido. “We would like to commend the participating students for their preparation, perseverance, and exceptional teamwork.”

Congratulations to all of the students who participated. The reading lists for next year’s Battle of the Books will be posted on May 8, 2023 at: