"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

28 November 2014

Library Bingo Redux

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I created a library bingo program for the middle school where I worked last winter. This bingo program helped give the students something to do during the winter doldrums and greatly increased the use of our library as well as circulation.

Now I am working at a public library in the youth services department, and when we were deciding what to do over the winter holidays to keep the children reading and learning, I immediately thought of my library bingo program.  Obviously, the previous card I had created needed to be modified a bit before it could be used in a public library setting, but the idea is still the same: during the month of December, when many children and teens are not spending time at school, we will have the library bingo cards available. Anyone is allowed to participate, from parents who will read to their six-month old each night to sixteen-year olds who are reading from the young adult and adult sections.

One thing I made sure to emphasize was that all types of reading count: reading aloud to someone else, being read aloud to, listening to an audio book, reading an ebook, reading a physical book - all of these are valid forms of reading, and I'll not prohibit someone from counting their form of reading simply because it isn't the most common or popular form.

I also made sure to balance the squares on the card so that a book is required for many of them, but there are also many squares where another library activity - such as checking out a DVD or visiting the website - counts as participation.  The book descriptions are also intentionally vague. When I did this program at my middle school library, one of the squares said "Read a book with a green cover." I had kids who used The Giving Tree as their book and others who used Christopher Paolini's Inheritance. I made no judgmental remarks either way; both books have green covers, and therefore both books count.

One of the benefits of this type of flexibility is that the same bingo card can be used for young children, middle grade children, and teens. There's no need for me to make separate cards and color code them by age level.

When patrons have finished two bingos, they will be allowed to choose a free bookmark. After completing the entire card, they will earn their choice of a free book from our collection of prize books.

I'm hoping that this program will allow parents and children a fun way to interact with the library and give some focus to their winter holiday time, especially if they choose to spend that time at the library.

My new and improved winter reading library bingo card can be downloaded here.  Feel free to borrow and use for your own library as you will.

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