Washington, DC — The inaugural Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge for libraries came to a successful close this month, as more than 100 libraries all over the country and South Korea far eclipsed an ambitious goal set by investor and Shark Tank personality Mark Cuban.
The billionaire had challenged communities to meet a collective goal of reading at least one million minutes and 50,000 books during the month of January. With $35,000 on the line, readers rose to the occasion, surpassing the “minutes” target in Week 2, and the “books” target in Week 4. Ultimately, participants logged 84,002 books, plus a remarkable seven million minutes of reading time. (For scale: at eight hours a day, that’s more than 39 years of reading.)
Classics Lead the Way
The most popular books included both old favorites and new page-turners. Goodnight Moon led the way for the preschool set, while Harry Potter titles topped the list for young students. To Kill a Mockingbird was the number one choice for teens, followed by newer titles such as Nicola Yoon’s 2015 romance Everything, Everything, and Alexandra Diaz’s 2017 immigrant novel The Only Road. Among adults, Dan Brown’s 2017 thriller Origin was the runner-up, while the most-read title turned out to be A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 science-fiction novel, which benefited from the upcoming release of a movie adaptation starring Oprah Winfrey.
Seven high-performing libraries were selected for special honors!
Using Cutting-Edge Software to Track Reading
The Winter Reading Challenge was coordinated through Beanstack, an innovative software that takes a modern approach to managing reading programs, bringing everything online and making it easy for librarians and readers alike to set up and maintain accounts to track their reading. It can also suggest more titles readers might enjoy based on their interests and reading “doorways.”
Cuban became an investor in parent-company Zoobean after the founders impressed him with their vision on Shark Tank in 2013. Beanstack currently serves over 600 libraries globally. “Libraries are the lifeblood of so many communities, and we love having the opportunity to further their work in this way,” says Zoobean co-founder and Chief Client Success Officer, Jordan Lloyd Bookey.
Social Nonprofit First Book Will Use Prize Money to Help More Kids
Of Cuban’s prize money, $25,000 was donated to to First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. The remaining $10,000, plus a $1,500 bonus from Zoobean, was distributed to the top-performing libraries. The funds can be used for community programs or donated to nonprofit organizations in each library’s area. “I’m inspired by the work libraries do for their communities,” says Cuban. “The prize for everyone is to pay it forward to an awesome organization focused on literacy and access to books.”
Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 170 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families. “I believe that the most powerful force in the world is empathy,” says First Book’s president, co-founder and CEO Kyle Zimmer. “First Book is an ardent supporter of libraries and we are thrilled to be part of this program. We will absolutely put that $25,000 to work, serving kids in need.”
PARTICIPATING LIBRARIES INCLUDE THOSE LISTED BELOW