‘Bee’ ready! The final competition starts May 31st.

It’s that time of the year again, comparable to March Madness, say, or Super Bowl Sunday, when many school children (8  to 15 years old), their parents, families, teachers and schoolmates become totally consumed with correct spelling. Yes, the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee starts on May 31st and runs through June 2nd. Once again, ESPN will televise the competition starting June 1st, and currently is promoting the upcoming events with participant interviews, videos of past contests, “sports” commentaries and more.

So how hard are the words? How would you have done on these final challenges from years past: gladiolus (1925),  Chihuahua (1967), staphylococci (1987) and the winning word from 2010, stromuhr? Here’s the full list of winning words and winners.

Whether you’re an ace speller or one of those unfortunate, orthographically-challenged types (and given the oddities of English spelling, you are not alone), the study of words, their meanings and how to spell them is a fascinating diversion and a popular topic for many  authors, based on the collection of books on spelling we have here at the library. I’ve always enjoyed books about words, and here is my list of picks for spelling bee prep.

If you’d like to really get into the spirit of the competition, I suggest watching the wonderful film “Spellbound.” It’s in a category I’ve dubbed “Films You Can Watch with Your Kids.”  The movie follows eight young contestants in the 2001 competition as they move up the ranks of finalists, and shows how hard they work to stay in the game. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, rooting for them all, groaning and gasping as each word is spelled out.

Barbara L.

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