How Were the Books Picked
The first job was picking the Sweet 16. Over the course of the year, I have kept a tally of the books students have been reading and writing about, and chose the 16 books that were favorites in our grade. If multiple books in a series showed up on the list, I showcased the first book in the series. Below are a few of our ‘chosen’ books! 🙂 The full list includes Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Dairy of a Wimpy Kid, I Funny, Football Genius, Stick Dog, The Witches, Number the Stars, Wonder, The One and Only Ivan, Stranded, I Survived, Nancy Drew Clue Crew, Bad Kitty, Bone, and Origami Yoda.
If you didn’t have a running list, you could also ask your school librarian to run a list of the books most commonly checked-out. This year (2016), our librarian is running a primary and an intermediate list for our school’s two book tournaments. She ran a list of the most-checked out books for primary and intermediate and we chose the books from that list!
How Do I Make the Bracket?
Here’s what the progression of bracket-making looked like. I made a fatal error around the Elite Eight (I made the distance between markers too small to host two books during the Sweet 16 round) that added an additional 20ish minutes to the experience -boo. Thankfully, it was an easy fix and kids don’t notice when one side of the bracket is a few inches shorter than the other. 😉
After finishing up the bracket with the Sweet 16 books in place, I needed to make the basketballs for the display header. Using my handy dandy Martha Stewart Circle Cutter(BEST invention ever), I cut 6.5 inch circles and drew basketball lines on them using black marker…yes, I did have to Google what a basketball looked like. 😉 Then, using the school’s dye-cut machine and a glue stick, I added the letters to the overlapping basketballs.
Who is Able To Vote?
When Do You Start Your Tournament?
As soon as our bracket went up at the end of February, my kids were PUMPED and were reading as fast as they could to make it through a *few* more books before our vote for the Elite 8!
I follow the NCAA tournaments dates. I set up a Google Survey so students can easily vote at the beginning of the school day.
How Do You Make Your Bracket?
In addition to voting for the best books of our school year, students will also fill out their own bracket predicting the winners. For every correct answer, students will receive a point. The 3 students with the most points will receive a free book from our next Scholastic order! 🙂 We’ll fill out our brackets with the start of the tournament this Friday!
What Does The Final Bracket Looks Like?
So, when all these parts come together it looks a little like this… 🙂 (Click here to see our 2014 Tournament Results)
Running a School-Wide Tournament
Since moving schools, our school has adopted a school-wide book tournament. It’s the perfect chance to build community around some of our favorite books and it was just plain FUN! We ran two brackets (that were set up in our cafeteria) – one for picture books and one for chapter books. Our school librarian ran a list of the most checked-out books of the year – picture and chapter books. Then, we eliminated series duplicates (always choosing Book 1) and then, pitted the books against one another. All 750 students and 50 staff participated in the picture book challenge. We had different staff members read all of the books through morning meetings, library times, and a few via YouTube! Then, our intermediate grades had lots of copies of the chapter books for students to read. Finally, when it came time to vote, we set up our voting windows for 2 days. Students could vote on a Google Form before our school-wide morning meeting, during reading class, and during library or computer lab.
Tournaments Around the Country
Seeing Book Madness in action around the country is awesome. I love sharing materials and see how teachers make them their own. Want to share your tournament, I’d love to hear from you. Share a picture on Instagram and tag me – @BrownBagTeacher.
So, what do you think? Do you incorporate March Madness into your classroom? Do you set-up your own book bracket? If so, I’d love to hear about it. 🙂 In the meantime, make sure to snag the materials for FREE so you can get started without a headache!
Get Free Teaching Resources!
Join me for weekly classroom updates and free resources that are just-right for your guided math classroom!
This is sooooo cool! What a great idea!
Katie King says
Love it! Now the question is can I make this happen?!?!
This is right up your alley, Katie! Add in some Patricia Polacco & Ezra Jack Keats and you'll be good to go. 🙂
Mrs. Saoud says
Katie, I posted about the tournament on Primary Graffiti FB back in February with lots of primary books from our school wide tournament. Catherine, your intermediate tournament brackets look like a ton of fun! Your kids will be so excited!
Michelle Spencer says
What a brilliant and beautiful concept!
I've said it before and I'll say it again… I always look forward to your displays and this one is my FAVORITE!! I so badly want to be a student in your room. How fun is this!! Not to mention, the books you picked already resonate with your students because many of them have read them which must just increase their excitement even more. Bravo, Catherine. Bravo!
Tales of a Teacher
P.s. Please keep us updated on the 'winners' of each game!
Kelli, Thank you SO much. Making these displays is one of my favorite things to do. 🙂 My kids have so adopted the reading lifestyle and it's been so fun to encourage that. And of course I'll keep you updated. I predict Wonder and Diary of a Wimpy Kid will be in the championship game, but I am really interested in what the kids choose! 🙂
Keep Calm and Love First Grade says
This is soooooo cool!!!! Awesome idea… Thanks for sharing. I'd love to try it with some picture books next year. I just love reading your blog and all of your creative ideas!
Keep Calm and Love First Grade
paige buckwalter says
I have my signs ready and I am getting to school early to put mine up! I can't wait to see how this goes for my little ones:) I plan to do a read aloud each day with the picture books, I am predicting that Pete the Cat or A David Shannon book will win. You are SO creative and I am so thankful to call you a friend, even if you root for the wrong team in Kentucky 😉 Go Cards!
Dawn S. says
While it might be too late to start this now (we are on spring break this week), I am keeping this in mind for next year! This is a fantastic idea!
Diane R says
Oh, this is amazing!! Pinning for next year!
Miss Lifesaver says
I pinned this last year and am desperately waiting my opportunity to use it! Great post!!
Alison Rose says
Love, love, love, love! Pinned….did I mention I love?
Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'
This looks so fun!!!! Can't wait to see the winning books!!!
Kelly Anne says
LOVE this idea… can't wait to see who wins!!
Eclectic Educating says
The display looks amazing! I love how motivating it is! Great idea!
Mrs. Burgen says
This is seriously the COOLEST IDEA EVER!!! I love that you showed how to make the board as well, because I am somewhat layout challenged. I have been searching for ideas to get my kinders more excited about books and discussing books etc. I think I have just found the solution. It will take us a little longer though…I think I will steal this AMAZING idea and set it up for after spring break to last until the end of the year. Thank you for sharing!!
Bridget S says
AMAZING 🙂 Love it!!! I'm not sure I can pull this off this year (Spring Break is in 2 days), but next year I would love to get with the librarian and see how we could do this school wide!!!
Literacy Without Worksheets
Catherine, I'm a new follower and I have to say, the timing seems meant to be. I've been searching around for inspiration for a March Madness book tournament and here you are posting about yours in my first feed from your blog. Anyway, thanks so much for the inspiration and the freebies. I'm having all the 4th and 5th graders at my school vote for "the BEST book I've read all year." From those I'll pick our field of 16 and get our display up in a library window next week. Thanks again!
Joanne Miller says
Amazing, beautiful, creative, brilliant, breath-taking, motivating, should I go on??!!! Catherine, you've outdone yourself!
Head Over Heels For Teaching
Jamie Hoisman says
Ah-maze-ing!! I love this! I've never done anything with March Madness before, but you have inspired me. I'll be working on this over my spring break next week. Thank you for posting such awesome pictures, too! And many thanks for the beautiful freebie!
Megan Clayton says
I LOVE this idea and I am in the process of making my bracket. How will you have the kids "vote" on the Elite Eight?
I’m so excited to try the March Book Madness. One question I still have is how do students vote for their top pick?
Hey Jackie! We vote using Google Forms!
Susan Anderson says
This is fantastic. Thanks for all of the help!
What a wonderful idea! My 2nd grade team is adopting this using picture books that we have read in class and will read. It will be so much fun! Thanks for the great idea!
Kaitlin Edmunds says
Catherine! I am swooning over this idea!! OMG! Love it! You rock, girl!!!
K&C Love Grade 3
Rachel Vincent says
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! You're boards are amazing and this one is my favorite!!
A Tall Drink of Water
Sonya Yoder says
I absolutely love this, and I just created my own tonight!! Thank you so much for all your help and sharing!! You are wonderful. I was wondering where you made your bracket? It looks awesome, but I chose some different books for ours. Thank you for your time and hard work! 🙂
Third in Hollywood says
My colleague and I stumbled upon your blog while looking for book brackets. We are putting our board up tomorrow. Thanks for the great tutorial. We have adapted for middle school. As I looked at your blog for the 100th time today, I realized you we are both teaching in the bluegrass state! Thanks again for the inspiration!
wow. what an awesome idea!!!!!
Susan Shepherd says
This is an amazing idea! I'm so sad that I saw it after the tournament started! A must for next year!
Style Closet to Classroom says
I am just reading this post and I LOVE IT! I am "stealing" this idea for next year
Also–I am obsessed with Stitch Fix and thanks to you…i just signed up!! How did I not know about that?! Ha that is why I love this blogging world 🙂 Thanks!
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle says
Thank you so much for this super idea! I came to this post from Pinterest and it's perfect to use in connection with our Argumentation essays! 🙂
Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
C Hath says
I LOVE this idea!! I can't wait to get things together to do this!! Thank you for the reminder on Facebook tonight, and for being such an amazing teacher!!
Mrs. 3rd Grade
Heather Renz says
What a great way to motivate students! So creative! Love it!
Heather from Mrs. Renz 4th Grade Class
I love this! I'm trying do this in my library and was wondering how you created the brackets?
Hello! I used an online bracket creator. It was super simple. All I had to do is type in each book's name. 🙂
Will you be updating this for 2015?
Yes!!! I just updated the files. You can snag them here – https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Book-Madness-A-Tournament-of-Books-1714992
Thank you so much!
This is amazing and I would love to incorporate this into my 4th grade classroom. I was wondering how you went about introducing this to students and if you had them write anything about each book once they read them. Also, did you have multiple copies of the books or were the kids responsible for finding them at libraries, etc. if they hadn't read them before? Thanks!
You are awesome! LOVE this idea! How did you have them vote? How did you confirm that the students have read the books? We are wanting to do this school wide and can't wait to get started!
Laura Ledgewood says
Love this! Going to start with my lazy (I mean lack of motivation) fifth grade readers tomorrow!
I am using this with my Senior English classes. We are going to have a Tournament of British Poetry. They might actually be motivated to read and analysis the poems with the March Madness concept. How do you use Survey Monkey for voting in a tournament? Is there a tutorial for this? I am only seeing how to survey with questions.
Try a google survey? You can set it up with your brackets beginning with a sweet 16 category and then updating it weekly, moving into the elite 8, then final 4, etc. Good luck!
Ms. Wilt says
I know I'm a little late to comment, but what an awesome idea! Totally going to borrow it for this March!
Holly Tyler says
Ok, So I really want to do this with my firsties… And I was thinking I would do it as a class.. Pick small books on their level, read the books as a class and vote together. So read the two books in each bracket, vote on our favorite, then move on… I was wondering, when do you think we should start? When the actual basketball starts to keep in authentic?
Allen jeley says
Really nice book i read this book all stories and its give me great historical information thanks for share it personal statement proofreading .
Mrs. Full says
This is the best idea – EVER! Thank you for sharing your materials. I created a book bracket to use with my fifth grade students. This bracket is creating so much fun in my reading class. I linked back to your blog to give credit to YOU for this creative, fun idea. If interested, you may check out my bracket pic A Full Classroom
Suji DeHart says
Such a great idea! Well done! I live overseas, so I might do one for the next World Cup, as our students don't know much about March Madness!!
Do they have to have read the book to vote?
Yes, definitely. If students have read both books, they can vote in that match-up.
cynthia wells says
What dates will you use for this year?
I’ll be using the official NCAA Tournament dates, starting March 14th!
How did you print the book covers? I am finding it diffiult.
How large is your bracket (length x width)?
Lucy B. says
I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this until now. I’m so excited to try this idea for the first time in our library this year, and I’m planning all of the details now. Could someone give me ideas on the voting process by students. How do you hold the election? Do you create Google Forms, paper ballots, FlipGrid???? I need something easy for tabulating 300 votes each week.
Would love to try this! How many copies of each book would you recommend having on hand?
Tameka S Raven says
Would you be willing to share a copy of the google survey you used for voting and tallying ?