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Prepare your mind to do battle this summer

Battle of the Books. No, that does not involve a bunch of people getting together and whipping books at each other (although, now that I mention that, it does sound fun. I call the Encyclopedia Britannica!)

Rather, Battle of the Books is a battle of wits. Anyone entering grades six through nine can join with their preferred library, and they can get together with a team, to talk about the books they read. The team members try to memorize the required books to the best of their ability, so come time for the battle, they can answer the most trivia questions and ultimately win the contest.

This year, the books to read are "Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud" by Andrew Lane, "No Passengers Beyond This Point" by Gennifer Choldenka, "Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer" by John Grisham, "Peeled" by Joan Bauer, and "The Mysterious Howling" by Maryrose Wood.

After reading and practicing, the big battle takes place at 8 a.m. Aug. 4 at Erie Community College.

Laura McLeod, director of the Boston Free Library and entering her 13th year of leading her fearless readers into battle, said that her favorite part of battle is, "Watching the [first-timers'] faces as they walk into ECC and see 500 people there who love reading books. They are always so amazed to see so many people who, like them, love to read."

"Battle is one of my favorite programs. I love working with the teens and preteens, and they are so enthusiastic about reading. Working with them all summer long is truly phenomenal," she said. "There was a budget crisis a few years ago, and they thought about closing Boston, but the battle kids organized a Save Boston library event, where they held up signs to promote the library. It was great to see the kids' organized effort, and it was really touching."

If being part of a team where you can read and make friends for life sounds like fun, but you have realized that you are too old and wrinkly to join, you can still be a part of it by becoming a coach.

If you are unable to coach, there is always more you can do. "They are always in need of volunteers to come to battle on the day itself. It's an exciting morning, but they can always use more help," said McLeod.

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Alissa Roy is a junior at Springville-Griffith Institute.?