Build Year-Round Community Engagement With Reading Challenges

reading challenge artwork for banned books and Black history month
Masthead Waves

Libraries play a pivotal part in shaping their communities. Not only do they serve the diverse needs of their members by providing access to resources of all kinds, but libraries also promote reading culture and foster an environment that encourages personal growth. To keep engagement high throughout the year and extend your reach, consider Beanstack’s reading challenges. Libraries of all sizes can take advantage of these reading challenges to support their programming. 


In this post, we’ll provide a rundown of the variety of reading challenges available, including an explanation of why offering library reading challenges throughout the year is important, how to maximize community outreach with reading challenges, and suggestions for monthly and seasonal reading challenges as well as ongoing programming like 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.


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Let Reading Challenges Inspire Your Community

Reading challenges motivate readers and help create sustained reading habits. As a matter of fact, those who partake in a reading challenge read an average of 61 minutes a day! While teachers have long incentivized reading, reading challenges aren’t limited to the classroom. Libraries can take advantage of reading challenges too. In doing so, community literacy is encouraged and public library usage grows.


Beanstack makes it easy to offer reading challenges to your members. Those who participate can receive completion badges and earn prizes for logging their reading, submitting book reviews, and completing activities. Beanstack’s user-friendly web and mobile app also include reading tracking that motivates readers and tools like a reading timer, ISBN scanner, and title progress bars. Users can log everything from audiobooks to picture books when calculating reading time!


Better yet, since Beanstack is digital, reading challenge participants can expect fun and engaging gamification elements. This helps build independent reading habits and creates authentic reading engagement as participants work towards their reading goals. Digital tracking is more flexible than logging reading a on paper log. Participants will find the process convenient, and you’ll have a 360-degree view of your readers. With digital data tracking tools and reporting features, you can showcase your programming efforts and curate reading lists tailored to your community. Use Beanstack’s ready-made templates to customize reading challenges to suit your library branch needs.


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Reading Challenges Are for All Readers 

Beanstack offers a variety of reading challenges that appeal to readers of all ages. You’ll find monthly, seasonal, and ongoing challenges created to engage readers year-round. There are options to support a wide range of readers, no matter the season or stage of life. For a full list, download our 2023-2024 Reading Challenge Calendar.


Download Challenge Calendar


Looking for more fun? Don’t forget about our bingo reading challenges! Yet another way to make reading fun, bingo reading challenges provide your community with an additional option to participate, utilizing customizable bingo card templates. Readers can choose which badges to pursue to customize the reading challenge experience to make it their own. Overall, you can use Beanstack to make reading a fun activity that is engaging and significant to building a community reading culture.


Maintain Momentum With Monthly Reading Challenges

Keep the momentum going with new offerings each month. Themed reading challenges that celebrate cultural heritage months—like Black History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month—feature reading lists by notable authors and activities centered around historical events. These can be customized to highlight local celebrations or places of historical significance. 


Among Beanstack’s monthly challenges, you’ll also find seasonal and holiday-related ones like Hallow-read for Halloween, Read Grateful for Thanksgiving, and Spring Into Reading for spring. Each month, readers can find new reading challenges to explore and conquer.


Make Use of Seasonal Reading Challenges

Host your own seasonal reading challenge or participate in a Beanstack-sponsored reading challenge for a chance to win fun prizes, including book bundles, gift cards, cash, goodie baskets, and author visits. Encouraging participation in these larger events can help garner interest in monthly and ongoing challenges and promote them among readers, especially if you include completion prizes or a grand prize drawing. Depending on the length of the challenge, you could even feature a monthly prize or weekly drawing.


To help adults celebrate leisure reading and inspire students to continue reading when school is no longer in session, turn to Beanstack’s Winter Reading Challenge and Summer Reading Challenge.


Amanda Butcher, school librarian, notes, “The Winter Reading Challenge really helps motivate our students to get back on track with their reading after the winter break. It also encourages them to read over the break to get a jump start on their minutes that week before we return to school.”


Similarly, Beanstack’s Summer Reading Challenge presents an opportunity to continue building literacy skills over the summer break. To keep students from losing all the progress they’ve made throughout the school year, summer reading challenges can be a fun way to entice them to keep up the good work. Summer activities focusing on reading prevent backsliding and help close the achievement gap.


Expand Your Reach With Ongoing Reading Challenges

If you already have ongoing reading challenges in place, consider going digital! With Beanstack, it’s easy to move your existing program online to help reach more readers and boost participation. The best part? Ongoing digital challenges can be offered anytime. If you’re looking for ideas, consider the following: 

  • 1,000 Books Challenge: Use this as part of your 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program or as a way to help elementary school readers set goals for each grade. 
  • Genre Reading Challenge: Encourage readers to stretch their reading skills and explore new genres or specific types of books. Badges are earned for Poetry, Historical Fiction, Mystery, and more.
  • Pride 365: Celebrate everyone for who they are all year round, especially the LGBTQ+ community. Participants will read books and complete activities that honor everyone’s uniqueness! 

Inspire Readers With Author-Curated Reading Challenges

Beanstack co-founder Jordan Lloyd Bookey interviews popular and award-winning authors and author-illustrators on her podcast, The Reading Culture. Each episode features an author-curated reading challenge comprising titles picked by the author. Find themed reading challenge lists that inspire readers of all ages. Some examples include Jacqueline Woodson’s reading challenge, “Reading Black,” Varian Johnson’s reading challenge, “Drawn in Color,” and Meg Medina’s reading challenge, “Girls in Motion.” You can download the free reading challenge worksheet for each of these and create a display in your library for patrons.


Host an Impactful and Easy-to-Run Reading Fundraiser

As your community members make use of reading challenges and begin to read more, consider hosting a readathon to reach your fundraising goals as a local library. Beanstack’s reading fundraisers not only make reading fun, they help cultivate a love of reading while expanding your donor base and raising money. Beanstack’s fundraisers can also help you reach different donors than traditional capital campaigns, and they are easy to customize and promote on social media. Additionally, low processing fees mean more of the funds raised go directly to your library. It’s a win-win for you and your community.


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6 Tips to Boost Reading Challenge Participation

Reading is an important habit for kids and adults alike. To help create a community of readers and maintain a focus on literacy, try the six tips below to boost reading challenge participation. 


1. Utilize Your Website

Add a calendar or list of upcoming challenges to your website. For larger challenges, consider creating a new page.


2. Send Email Announcements

Include blurbs in ongoing newsletters or send an email reminder to any previous participants to remind them about reading challenges and encourage them to partake.


3. Create a Social Calendar

Scheduling is a breeze with pre-planning. Include imagery from the challenge (included with our challenge templates), a countdown leading up to the start date, and posts about top readers during the challenge. Use a hashtag to get the challenge trending. 


4. Cast a Wide Net

Go beyond your current email and social subscribers and send out a press release or media advisory. Include messaging about how important reading challenges are to the community. You can send your release to local publications like newspapers and blogs to see if any are willing to share it.


5. Distribute Marketing Materials

Beanstack reading challenge templates come with editable flyers and bookmarks. Keep them on desks, hang them on bulletin boards, and distribute them at community events to promote reading challenges at your library.


6. Encourage Staff to Spread the Word

Hold a kickoff to review current and upcoming reading challenges. Then, encourage your staff to make their interactions with patrons meaningful as they share about the latest reading challenges at your library.


Turn to Beanstack for Support

Our team is here to help. Take advantage of ongoing training to make the most of your partnership with Beanstack, and access our help desk for assistance when you need it. Our customer support team includes reading experts who are passionate about what they do and dedicated to ensuring you succeed. We believe in the power of reading and want to help you create a community of avid readers. For updates about the latest and greatest from Beanstack, make sure to subscribe to our client newsletter!


Up for the Challenge?

Ready to implement Beanstack reading challenges at your library and engage patrons all year round? Reach out to us to request a demo or receive information about pricing

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