March Madness: Not just for math - a little book madness

In March in the United States, we celebrate our love for college basketball with a tournament called March Madness.  It's 3 weeks of basketball, heartbreak, and upsets.  And we love it.  In math classrooms all around the country, students are following the tournament and making probability calculations.  But March Madness isn't just for math.  I like to host a little tournament we call Book Madness.

Whether we host the tournament during March Madness or at other times, it's a great way to host a book share and get students writing about the books they read.  Here's a little bit about what we do:


  • First I introduce students to the idea of the Book Madness contest with information about the tournament.  Basically, students complete several tasks to persuade students about the value of a book. 
  • The key component to Book madness is the entry forms (the one on the right is for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn).  On each entry form, students complete a description of their book and create a book cover.  I give students about 4 - 5 days to complete entries or you can just do entries during class time.  I also do at least 1 entry.  This is an opportunity for me to introduce students to a book that perhaps they have not yet seen but might enjoy.  Entries are anonymous, so no one knows whose is whose.
  • We hang these entries up in brackets to start the tournament.
  • During each round we vote on entries in each "game" (book vs. book).  Votes are tallied and "winning" books advance to the next round.  
Sometimes we add other opportunities to campaign for books throughout different rounds, even books that weren't an individual student's original entry.  The students love it, and it is one of the most valuable ways I have found for students to introduce each other to and discover some wonderful books.  Complete lesson plan for the book madness tournament here.

How do you share books in your classroom?  How do students share their favorites?  Join the discussion in the comments below.


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