My daughter, Nee, loves books. She’s been reading since she was 3 years old and is still passionate about it. One night, after I had tucked her in bed and turned off all the lights, I noticed a glow coming from her room. I walked back in to discover that she was using a pocket flashlight to get in a few more minutes of reading. I was prepared to make her put away the book and go to sleep. Instead, I let her finish her story and smiled as I walked downstairs. That’s when I knew she would be a perfect candidate for her class’ Name That Book team. At first Nee was reluctant to try out, but she finally relented because her mother and I kept nudging her.
After she made the team, Nee brought home a long list of books that she had to read to prepare for the competition. I was more intimidated by the list than she was. These books were in addition to her regular school reading requirements. Nee took it all in stride. “I only have to read the books,” she said. “It’s not like I have to write them.”
Nee has always had an uncanny ability to speed-read and retain the information. At one point, she was completing one book per day.
A few days before the competition, Nee contracted strep throat and we were worried that all of her hard work and dedication would be for naught. Her teammates and teachers called everyday to see if she would be healthy enough to compete. Thankfully, the antibiotics worked as prescribed and Nee was able to participate.
Her team of 4th graders had to compete against a team of 3rd graders and a team of 5th graders. The 5th graders were the reigning champs and seemed determined to keep the title. After introducing the teams, the librarian explained the rules.
Each team will get 10 questions based on the list of books they read. After hearing the question, the team has 15 seconds to state the full, correct title of the book. Teams will receive one point for each correct answer. The team that answers the most questions correctly will be the winner.
The librarian began the competition by asking the 3rd graders the first question. After deliberating for a few seconds, they answered incorrectly. Nee’s team was next and they got the answer right. The 5th graders ended the first round with a wrong answer. The next two rounds had the same results. By the end of the fifth round, the score was 5th graders, 2; 4th graders, 5; and 3rd graders, 1.
In the next round, Nee’s team finally missed an answer and the other two teams answered their questions correctly. With the score now 3-5-2, I started to do some probability exercises in my head. Nee’s team only had to answer three out of the next four questions correctly to secure victory.
The librarian read each team its last four questions and tallied the score. After a few minutes, he returned to the mic with the final results.
“With a score of nine correct answers,” he said with a pregnant pause. “The 4th grade team is this year’s Name That Book champion.” Nee and her teammates were exuberant. So was I. I hugged my wife and gave one of the dads a high-five.
On the way home, Nee told me that she was the only one who knew the answer to two of the questions. If her strep throat he kept our out of the competition, the 5th graders may have retained their title.
I was proud to see her excel in an area that she enjoys. I was even more excited that her love for reading will continue to flourish.
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