5 Tips to Maximize Beanstack for Your Summer Reading Challenge

Masthead Waves

Summer’s around the corner—the season when reading challenges take center stage at libraries big and small. Beanstack can help you take yours to the next level by improving participation and engagement. In this blog, we’ll provide five ways to kick off and elevate your summer reading challenge, from setting up a test family account to sending your staff to BeanstackEDU. 


1. Get to know your resources

We get it: no one has time to read the user manual. Thankfully, we’ve got a suite of easy-to-use resources, like our Beanstack help desk, to get you started. More ways to get up-to-speed include:

  • Revise your “role report.” This report on the admin dashboard helps guarantee that your team members have the necessary access to your Beanstack site. 
  • Check weekly client updates and monthly roll-up emails. These emails highlight key features, new products, and additional training to assist with your summer reading program.
  • Join our Facebook user group. With over 3,000 members, this group is a great way to connect with other Beanstack users, share ideas, and learn new tricks.
  • Review Beanstack’s 2021 Summer Reading Report. Gather key takeaways to guide your 2022 summer reading challenge kickoff. 
  • Download and use the mobile app. Learning to use the app yourself will help you provide the best experience for your patrons. 

building challenge


2. Prepare for building your challenge

You’ve learned the ins and outs of Beanstack, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. What comes next? We recommend taking time to plan and prepare your summer reading challenges using the three steps below: 


Inform your team

To create a connected and accessible experience for your readers, you’re team must be on the same page for summer reading. This includes circulation librarians, youth services, marketing individuals, and beyond for public libraries. For schools be sure that all the support staff, teachers, and leadership know about the challenge. Key items to know include the theme, challenge start and end dates, and if there are prizes and incentives. This is a great time to get your team signed up to participate as well!

Identify a goal 

Now that you've decided to run a summer reading challenge think about what you'd like to track. When it comes to logging reading in Beanstack, the options are diverse: minutes, books, or days. Tailoring the method to suit your readers, especially considering age or reader group, is key. Opting for minutes as the metric of choice offers a comprehensive approach that promotes fairness between struggling and proficient readers while providing valuable insights into students' reading habits for educators and librarians. For young readers who enjoy multiple short picture books daily, logging books might be a more effective way to monitor their progress, especially when guided by their parents.


Keep it simple

Is this your library or school's first summer challenge? Check out our ready-made challenge templates, pre-planning worksheets, and the Beanstack Sponsored Summer Reading Challenge launch kit located on our helpdesk for more help getting started. Your challenge can be ready to push live in just a few clicks. And if you're a seasoned pro with a well-performing program? Repeat your success, but refresh your challenge by incorporating new artwork, events, or programming. 


build and test

3. Build and test (and test again!)  

Now that you’ve planned and prepped, it’s time to start building your summer reading challenge—and you don’t have to go it alone. Beanstack Basics videos on our help desk are designed to assist you with tutorials, demos, and short articles. For additional information, you can also attend live webinars with the Beanstack team. 


Testing out your reading challenges as you build them helps you troubleshoot potential problems, and there are many easy ways to do so. For instance, the client-success simulator helps resolve issues as they arise, highlighting issues that need to be fixed with a red, yellow, or green indicator. We recommend setting up a test family account with volunteer access; give this account a name like “Summer 2024 Test” so it’s easy to delete once you’re finished experimenting. As a final check, you can also request that the client-services team review your challenges to ensure you’re good to go.



4. Prepare and train your staff

Your team is the “secret sauce” to a successful summer reading program; the more staff buy-in you have, the more likely you’ll meet your goals. We recommend several best practices for training your team:

  • Send your staff to BeanstackEDU where they can find webinars designed to strengthen knowledge of available tools and best practices.  
  • Customize the editable quick-start training guide to create a cheat sheet for staff.
  • Host a virtual or in-person training for staff.
  • Create staff-specific reading challenges. 

If your team is excited about Beanstack and can easily explain to families how to register and participate, your summer reading program can reach more readers.



5. Promote your site and challenges

Beanstack’s co-founder, Felix Lloyd, has a saying: “Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come.” To achieve your participation goals, you must also promote your summer reading challenge with all the available tools at your disposal. Spread the word, and the engagement and fun they experience during the reading challenge will keep them coming back for more. 


We're Here to Help

If you're already using Beanstack and encounter any challenges, don't worry! Contact your client success manager or our support team for assistance. Are you a library or school eager to begin your Beanstack journey? Contact our sales team to see Beanstack in action.


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