Tournament of Books: March Madness for the Classroom

Hello, friends!

It's Christmas break for me and I'm taking a few minutes to plan ahead for the new year!  Last year our first graders hosted a Tournament of Books and it was a huge success so we're getting ready to host one again this year!

The first thing I did was put up this huge bracket in the main hallway of our school.  It generated a ton of buzz around the school, especially before we shared any details about what we were actually planning!  The Brown Bag Teacher has bracket printables free on Teachers Pay Teachers.  They are perfect for getting your bracket ready.  To build the bracket, I started from the middle and worked out on each side, using black duct tape for the lines.  It wasn't a quick project, but it turned out perfectly!

Once all the kiddos were making guesses about my giant hallways display, we collected nominations.  

Each first grader nominated a favorite book, which gave us about 70 nominees.  It was surprisingly easily to narrow them down to 16 choices for our bracket since we had lots and lots of the same choices, plus a few that were easy to toss (a few guided reading titles made it into the mix haha).

Once we filled in our top 16 books, the students filled out their own brackets.  I printed blank brackets from Print Your Own Brackets and wrote in our selections.  Then, we carefully went through the choices and the students filled in a winner for each match up.  This also helped them to understand how the bracket itself worked and promoted lots of debate about their favorites!

Now that we had our top 16 choices, everyone needed to make sure they read the books!  We read many of the nominees aloud to our classes, but we also used QR codes with iPads in our listening centers to make the books accessable to all our students.  

Then, each week, we conducted a vote.  We created a Google Form with the choices and then posted a QR code that linked to the form.  Students used iPads to scan the QR code then enter their choices.  It was quick for them to complete and easy for us since we didn't need to prepare or count 70 paper ballots each week!

Even though only our first graders were voting, the whole school was eager to see who the winner would be and looked forward to seeing the winners each week!  

Our tournament came down to a Crayon vs Crayon final!  The Day the Crayons Came Back was the winner, "because it has glow in the dark!" and two of my kiddos actually managed perfect brackets!  

This year we're planning further ahead, so the whole school is getting involved!  Have you ever hosted a Tournament of Books?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


  1. My students would LOVE this! Great idea!

  2. What did you use to get the books on the ipad? Did you post to youtube?

  3. What app did you use for them to cast votes?

  4. This looks like a great idea and I'm going to use the bracket style for my "Great Book-Off". We're doing it in one day and the children have to pitch and defend their book rather than everyone reading all the books.

  5. I run a Clobal March Book Madness competition for Grades K-High School! It's free and open to anyone. This spring (our 4th year) we have over 5,000 students registered from 24 states and Australia! You can join too! More information on my website and follow the twitter hashtag #GlobalMarchBookMadness

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  7. Gave this a try for the library.. I made two brackets.. 1 for K-2nd grade and 1 for 3rd-5th.. I let each class choose one book by getting into groups and voting for a book then majority vote won and that book made the bracket.. I have 15 classes per bracket so I chose a random book by putting in all the books the students chose but didn't make the bracket and randomly chose one.. Each week of March when the students came to library they voted for 1 book per pair of books.. then after the rotation of all the classes throughout the week was done I would move the book that won and we would start all over for the next round.. The kids were excited especially when 2 books they really really liked were up against each other.. This year we aren't doing a winner winner but next year I think I will have the classes go against each other and the winner will get the winning book added to their classroom.. But so far this is a fun learning experience for my first time doing this :):)


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