Middle school students from nearly every middle school and intermediate school in the county start the academic competition at the beginning of the school year, reading 20 novels in the fall.

They turn the pages in hopes of reading more than other students across the county.

The 16-year-old annual tournament called Book Beats has the students reading novels from the Young Hoosier Book Award program. Teams from each school divide which books they will read and work together to answer questions written by county librarians about the literature.

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The team that answers the most questions correctly wins the annual competition.

Librarians started the competition in 2000 with Center Grove and Greenwood schools participating, said Erin Kirchhoff, adult and teen services librarian at White River Township.

The program has grown, and now students from all corners of the county participate, she said.

“It’s been a great experience all these years to see the kids really get involved and enthusiastic about reading,” Kirchhoff said.

The tournament is modeled after an academic competition, said Stacey Kern, librarian at Clark-Pleasant Middle School.

Near the beginning of the school year, students who want to be on the Book Beats team meet in the library and decide which team member will read each book, she said. At least one team member, typically the team captain, will commit to read all 20 books as a back up, Kern said.

“(Students) are pumped up about this,” she said.

All the books chosen are from the Young Hoosier Book Award program in an effort to make sure students are reading the books educators have recommended for them, Kern said.

Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.