By Kitty Felde

Ask any teacher about spring fever. It’s that time of year when attention spans are short and the pressure is on to get kids ready for the testing that takes up most of May. 

So how do you keep kids reading? How about the five letter word bingo?

Pattie Billings is a librarian at the Quapaw Tribal Library in Quapaw, Oklahoma. She designed a reading bingo card for her young patrons. The squares are filled with reading-related tasks like read one chapter in a new book, read to a stuffed animal, read to an adult abd read with a flashlight. If readers got five in a row, Pattie says they got an “itty bitty prize.” Two bingos earned a slightly better prize. Tackling every task in every square – known in bingo circles as a blackout – earned the biggest prize.

Pattie shared that her own grandson was a reluctant reader, but even he’s been working his way through the bingo card, determined to earn the grand prize.

If you want to play along, Goodreads has its own bingo competition open to adults, as well as a bingo card generator where you can fill in the blanks with your own ideas for a reading challenge. Pinterest also includes dozens and dozens of examples.

As to prizes? Don’t think of them as bribes, but as tangible incentives. It could be a new gel pen. Or an extra half hour playing Minecraft. Or even a Minecraft book! 

And if you’re looking for prizes for an entire classroom, Book Club for Kids is happy to mail you a stack of bookmarks. Kitty Felde is the host and executive producer of the award-winning Book Club for Kids podcast. Her newest book in The Fina Mendoza Mysteries series of books and podcasts is called State of the Union.

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