F lashing lights meant Nacogdoches ISD elementary students were piling up the points with correct answers in the Battle of the Bluebonnets Thursday.

Students in grades 3 through 5 at NISD elementary campuses gathered in the library at Nacogdoches High School for the annual literary contest that attracts some of the more prolific readers from each school. Team members pushed buttons that set off a light for the chance to answer questions first.

The team of Cynthia Barahona (Brooks-Quinn-Jones Elementary), Grady Hart (Raguet Elementary), Katie Rocha (Fredonia Elementary) and team captain Abel Garcia (Nettie Marshall Academy of Dual Language) fought its way through three rounds to claim the 2019 Bluebonnet title, scored 71 points to win the title match.

The Battle of the Bluebonnets has been around since 1998, when NISD librarians created the contest to encourage students to read books on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master list created each year by the Texas Library Association.

To qualify for the NISD contest, students must read at least 10 of the Bluebonnet books.

The twenty books that made up this year’s Texas Bluebonnet list: “Amina’s Voice,” “The Bicycle Spy,” “Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics,” “Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix,” “Garvey’s Choice,” “Grand Canyon,” “Grandpa’s Hal-La-Loo-Ya Hambone,” “How to Avoid Extinction,” “Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing,” “The Harlem Charade,” “Hello Universe,” “Me and Marvin Gardens,” “Refugee,” “Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero,” “Slider,” “Spirit Hunters,” “Stef Soto, Taco Queen,” “Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness,” “The Unlucky Lottery Winners of Classroom 13” and “Wedgie and Gizmo.”

Katie, a fifth-grader on the winning team, liked “Refugee,” the best. “It’s because it’s about the fall of Nazis and how people escaped from them,” she said.

“Refugee,” by author Alan Gratz, tells the tales of three children escaping oppression, including Josef, a Jewish boy growing up in 1930s Germany.

Cynthia, a third-grader, liked “The Bicycle Spy,” a story by Yona Zeldis McDonough about a young French boy growing up dreaming of one day competing in the Tour de France.

For Grady, “Wedgie and Gizmo” was best. The book by Suzanne Selfors describes the rivalry between two pets – an over-excited dog and an a guinea pig that’s a bit of an “evil genius.”

On Thursday, NISD Trustee Mindy Winslow read questions to the competitors, who then had 10 seconds to answer. Trustee Dr. Tyrrel Grohman, M.D., served as timer and scorekeeper.

Scoring in the Battle of the Bluebonnets awards five points for a team that’s first to answer the question correctly. An additional three points can be picked up for providing the correct author.

If the team that buzzed first misses the question, the opposing team can pick up three points for providing the correct title of the book and another three points for the author’s name. If the first team answers the question correctly but misses on the author, the opposing team can steal a point by identifying the author.

Les Linebarger is NISD’s communications and community engagement director.

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