Learners from schools across Athlone participated in the seventh Rylands Battle of the Books competition earlier this month. The annual programme, which concluded last Friday, was attended by more than 100 learners. Jurena Moose, the senior librarian at Rylands Library, explains the competition first took place in 2008 to encourage teamwork and to instil a love for reading among learners.She says in the short period of seven years, the competition has grown to eight participating schools, including Habibia, Turfhall, Newfields, Portavue, Darul Islam, Blossom, Starling and Rylands primary schools. “It is always lovely to see these learners participate in such a programme. There is so much to learn from it.“Two schools from Hanover Park and one school from Bridgetown were also part of this year’s integrated programme, where the participants worked in teams of five to share and discuss information.“The books were handed out to the schools, two months before the competition. Learners could read the books and familiarise themselves with the contents before the competition started.”Moose confirms the winners of this year’s Grade 7 category were learners from Rylands Primary School who came in first place, with Bridgeville Primary School in second place.Rylands Primary School took first place in the Grade 6 category, with Starling Primary School in second place.The Grade 5 category winner was Darul Islam Primary School, with Newfields Primary School in second place.“Prizes were sponsored to the learners by the Friends of Rylands Library and the South African National Zakah Fund (Sanzaf). The prizes included stationery packs, headphones, scientific calculators, mathematical sets, dictionaries, party packs and goody bags,” adds Moose. Schools that were not part of this year’s programme are urged to join in on the next round of the Battle of the Books.V For more information on the next Battle of the Books competition, call 021 637 2220 or 021 637 3325.