After asking students to take part in the Selection Committee for Book Bracket each year, the work begins in order to make the actual bracket.
I go through the Selection Committee ballots – paper or electronic – and write down each title that has been suggested. If a title gets more than one vote, tallies appear next to the titles to indicate that there is interest.
Once all the titles are written out, I am now able to see what books students have enjoyed reading. I find it to be an interesting survey of books.
The first three years of Book Bracket consisted of me counting up votes and ranking book titles in order of most to least amount of votes. I would then place the books into regions depending on the amount of votes they received. Each region had a color.
This allowed book titles to truly be ranked based on the Selection Committee’s votes, but what was happening through the daily voting activity that students were having children’s books win out. Book Bracket became less of a broad look into literature’s offerings and more of a popularity contest among Dr. Seuss classics.
For the past two years, I have surveyed the Selection Committees offerings and observed commonalities of the books like genres for the regions, such as young adult literature, nonfiction, children’s books, classics, etc. This allows books to be pitted against similar books. And, when the final four is determined, you have one book representing each category/genre/region.
Another recent change is I have removed multiple books from the same series from being considered. For example, Harry Potter books are very popular contenders for the Book Bracket. If I receive votes for five of the seven books in the series, I reallocate the votes for the other books to the first book in the series. If the first book was not nominated then the votes go to the “oldest” book in the series. This isn’t the [insert popular series of the year] Book Bracket.
Within the newly determined region, books are seeded based on the amount of votes they received from the Selection Committee. If there is a tie, I turn to Goodreads and look at the average rating of each book. The book with the higher rating gets the higher seed.
For example, in 2019 I had a tie in votes between Tuesdays with Morrie and John Glenn: A Memoir.
Tuesdays with Morrie has the higher rating on Goodreads, so it received the 6 seed, while John Glenn: A Memoir received the 7 seed.
Once all the books have been seeded, I use a Google Sheet to create the match ups on the actual bracket. In the first round each region has the following match ups – (1) v. (8), (4) v. (5), (3) v. (6), and (2) v. (7). The reason why I’ve listed them in this order is because this is how they appear on the bracket.
Let the voting begin!
Each year has brought nuances and updates, but through and through the process and the creation of Book Bracket has remained consistent. This year, I will be providing an insider’s look into Book Bracket, including:
- Book Bracket Overview
- The Selection Committee
- Making the Bracket (this post)
- Daily Voting
- Student Brackets and Scoring
If there are any elements you are interested in that I have not listed or covered, let me know and I will throw one together.