March Madness at Jefferson — With books!


Jefferson Elementary students and staff join in on the school’s very own March Madness Tournament — instead of a bracket of basketball teams, they have a bracket of books! The March Madness Tournament of Books started four years ago and has been a fun school-wide project to which students and staff look forward. It always brings about cheers and cries of disappointment when certain book choices do or do not continue onto the next round in the hunt for the title of “2019 Book of the Year.”

In January, staff research and gather book nominates for the tournament. This allows kids to have fun, enjoy new books in the library and instills the love and enjoyment of reading. Each week when classes visit the library, Jefferson Elementary Media Secretary Mrs. Bestul reads them a story from the tournament. She explains that in March the school will have the tournament to vote on what book students think is the Book of the Year!

Then it’s bracket time. Staff print off pictures of book covers and randomly assign them seed numbers. After the books are placed on a paper bracket, students and staff get the first peek at the book match-ups and dream of picking the winning book! But that’s not all — they put a HUGE bracket on the wall down by the lunchroom so all kids can see it throughout the day. It’s a pretty big topic of conversation in the breakfast and lunch lines while the kids wait.

Finally, when the tournament starts, an announcement is made about the game, telling classes to write their votes on their ballot, and put it in the ballot box on the library counter by 12 p.m. sharp! The votes are collected, tallied, and the results are kept secret until the next morning when they are shared over the intercom. As the results are shared you can hear cheers and groans from all over the school! The next game is then announced and the fun continues until there are two books left. At that point, everyone gets their own vote and they tally how many students and staff vote for the two remaining books. One will earn the title of 2019 Book of the Year and the other one will be the runner up.

When the tournament is complete the whole school celebrates the winner, takes down the bracket and packs everything up for another year. Past tournament winning “book covers” have been made into posters, so that every year children may check them out. First-grade teacher Jenna Veenendaal stated, “It’s so much fun to read the stories with the kids and share this experience with them, and I can tell they enjoy it, as well. As for this year … we are only a few games into the tournament, but I know there is loads of fun ahead.”

Who do you think the winner will be? “The Three Little Super Pigs,” “The Creepy Carrots,” “The Interrupting Chicken,” “The Wonky Donkey,” “Dragons Love Tacos,” “The Day the Crayons Quit,” “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes,” “Skippyjon Jones Class Action,” “Diary of a Sider,” “Tacky in Trouble,” “The Gingerbread Girl,” “Pigeon Finds a Hotdog,” “Knuffle Bunny,” “The Color Monster,” “Olivia,” “Babies in the Bayou,” or “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day!”


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