YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - "What common, everyday tool was introduced to Korea by King Chu-mong'"

"Who was the last King of America'"

The answers - chopsticks and King George the 3rd - might not be common knowledge for many of us, but 24 fifth and sixth graders can answer them in no time.

These were just a couple of the 50 questions reading teams from Seoul American Elementary School and Seoul American Middle School took on as they matched reading comprehension wits May 22 at the third annual Battle of the Books competition.

After 45 minutes of intense question-and-answer sessions, the sixth graders emerged victorious with a four-point edge on the fifth graders, 24-20.

"Although today's event was a competition, I think it also represents the close cooperation between the two schools," said Darrell Mood, Seoul American Middle School principal. "In my book, both teams are winners. I'm proud of all of you."

Preparation for the contest started at Christmastime, with each student being assigned a book to study and know in great detail. Each contestant had to read 10 books, eight fiction and two non-fiction.

"It was a big commitment to read all the books," said Kris Yoho, SAES librarian. "We tried to pick books that would appeal to their interest and reading levels. They read books they probably would not have read otherwise."

This event is based on a nationwide reading incentive program with similar contests held at schools across America.

"We thought it might be a fun way, too, to bring the fifth graders to compete against their schoolmates from last year," Yoho said.

"The kids really came through and read all the books," added Neata Wiley, SAMS librarian.
The sixth grade team captain said he enjoyed preparing for the event, having read at least nine of the 10 books.

"It was really fun for me. I liked it," said Brianna McKiernan, sixth grade team captain. "I would never have picked up some of the books that were chosen, but I enjoyed them and it gave me an opportunity to read different types of books."

Students from both schools filled the SAHS auditorium along with other spectators. They cheered and screamed as their fellow classmates ensued in their battles.

"My daughter always liked reading," said Jim Scanlan, who cheered on his daughter, Hannah. "But I think this event also gave her an opportunity and incentive to try new books."