Biblio Battles and other games

Are you a fan of games such as Monopoly, Trouble, or Battleship? How about card games like Pinochle or Exploding Kittens? Yes, it is the time of year for shopping, but that’s not why this week’s column is on the topic of games. It is also the time of year for family gatherings and parties with coworkers and friends, and perhaps that means playing games.

One of the challenges of playing games, especially when it involves a diverse group, is finding a game that can work for a 5-year-old as well as an 85-year-old. Twister? No, I have a better suggestion – a BiblioBattle!

The concept is rather simple. Participants have an agreed-upon amount of time to talk about a book they have read with the goal of having their book selected as the winner. The winner is based on agreed-upon criteria that might include the book most like to read or the best book presentation.

BiblioBattles started in Japan, and they are slowly making their way to college campuses and book clubs in the United States. In Japan, it is quite the national phenomenon. Learn more at

I became interested in this topic as a way to get students talking about books. The competition aspect is the key, as well as allowing students to work together to prepare their “battle plan.”

Perhaps you cannot see this working for your family, as not everyone is a reader, but that is the beauty of this battle format – it works for movies (LaLaLand vs. The Sound of Music) or characters in movies (Sigourney Weaver in Alien/Aliens and Linda Hamilton in Terminator I and II). How about who is braver, Ariel in The Little Mermaid or Belle in Beauty and the Beast? Who is funnier, scarier, a better singer, more believable? Which movies have the better special effects? Which TV show is the best medical drama: Gray’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor, ER, Chicago Med?

I am not recommending this instead of games like Clue or Scrabble, but rather in addition to them. An activity such as BiblioBattle requires participants to support their choice with facts, not just opinions. It allows them to practice debating in a structured, respectful way. It requires them to listen to other participants and use what they hear to strengthen their argument. These are all not just game-playing skills; they also are essential life skills.

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” He also said, “A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” Enough said.

What games do your family like to play? Share your memories and experiences at


Kathy Gephart is a retired public school educator and the founder of Stone Soup Literacy ( whose mission is to build readers, one community at a time. Email Kathy at