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École Martha Currie Elementary students win first-ever Book of the Year Battle

Martha%20Currie%20SSBOY%20Battle%20Photo.jpgTeacher-librarian helping teacher Shaunna MacDonald with École Martha Currie Elementary students Brianne Allard, Naseeb Bual, Finn Storey, Summer Stroh and Mylah Brooks. The team of Grade 6 and 7 students won the inaugural Surrey Schools Book of the Year battle, testing their knowledge of the district's top 2024 books against 14 other Surrey and White Rock teams.

Students at École Martha Currie Elementary are top of the class after winning the district’s first-ever Book of the Year Battle, a new competition for Grade 4 to 7 students to test their knowledge of 2024’s best books.

Held in June, the inaugural event pitted teams from 15 Surrey and White Rock elementary schools against each other in a live, online quiz about the 10 Book of the Year candidates in this year’s Surrey Book Awards. The competition was the brainchild of Shaunna MacDonald, the district’s teacher-librarian helping teacher, designed to encourage reading among younger grades.

“We have had the Book of the Year awards for more than 50 years, that’s a mainstay in our district,” she said. “But I wanted to bring reading sports to the district as well, piggybacking on the Book of the Year nominations.

“It was a different way to get kids engaged with the books that also provided a competition element for kids to read in school.”

Students were challenged with remembering plot points, characters and unique details from books such as Giju’s Gift by Brandon Mitchell, A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga and the 2024 winner, New Dragon City by Mari Mancusi.

With the help of ADST helping teacher Gareth Poon, the district hosted a “full production” for the students, complete with graphics, sound effects and pizzazz to replicate a real game show. The teams answered 25 questions in an online form and eagerly awaited the results in what proved to be a stiff competition.

“Between first, second and third place, there was a difference of three points,” said MacDonald. “Martha Currie actually got 25 out of 25. Second place was a tie between three schools and third place was a tie between three schools.

“The Martha Currie teacher-librarian, Dil McDonough, said that the kids knew that they’d aced it – they were so confident in their answers, they knew these books.”

To the victor goes the spoils! MacDonald presented the trophy to the winning team at École Martha Currie’s year-end assembly, marking a momentous end to the school year for some of the students.

“This team was made up of Grade 6 and 7 students – they were students who had done the Reading Link challenge, and this was a beautiful way to send off four of them to secondary school,” said MacDonald. “They’ve now had a high at the end of their elementary career.”

As for the Book of the Year Battle, the wheels are in motion for its return next year.

“A lot of teacher-librarians saw how successful it was, so next year, I think we’ll have even more schools participate,” said MacDonald. “I’ll have to make the questions harder.”

Congratulations, École Martha Currie Elementary, on winning the first-ever Book of the Year Battle!

2024 Book of the Year

Winner: New Dragon City by Mari Mancusi


  • Air by Monica Roe
  • Answer in the Pages by David Levithan
  • Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros
  • Giju’s Gift by Brandon Mitchell
  • Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee
  • Odder by Katherine Applegate
  • A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
  • Speak Up by Rebecca Burgess
  • Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

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