Blogger Alexa Newman

Winter Reading Programs : Game On at the Library!

Most public libraries, and many school libraries, conduct Summer Reading Programs. In fact, many of you (like me) have already begun planning your SRP.

I’m curious to know how many other libraries out there hold Winter Reading Programs. And what your different programs entail. Please share your comparisons, ideas, and suggestions. I’d love to gather some innovative ideas.

At the Algonquin Area Public Library District, we started our WRP years ago as a family reading program where the entire family would read and record their time together on one log as a group to earn a single prize such as a fleece blanket, or a sled. Each child also earned a paperback book of their choice upon completion of the family program. A few years ago we reformatted the program to more closely follow our SRP model. This included extending the length of the program, from 5 weeks to 2 months, and we discontinued the family model, and allowed each reader to sign up on their own. At its core, it is a scaled down version of our Summer Reading Program.

We are currently in the middle of our program. It runs from January 2 through February 28. This year’s theme is Game On! Our Winter Reading Program is all inclusive: we have something to offer all ages, from babies through adults. To go along with the gaming theme, our log for 2018 is a bingo card.

Participants in the Youth Services Department have a choice of reading, playing games, attending library programs, or completing a fun variety of other activities including drawing “book” and “activity” cards. Book cards offer directions, for example, to read a book with a blue cover; choose a mystery; or find a book with the word “snow” in the title. Some of the many activity cards that can be chosen suggest participants play a game of old maid, count the fish in the aquarium, rub your head and pat your tummy, or (my personal favorite) librarian’s choice.

For kids, once you complete your first bingo you earn a paperback book you choose from a cart with a selection of hundreds of titles. They also get a couple of coupons and gift certificates.  This year children from birth through 8th grade earn coupons for a free jump at a local trampoline place and an ice cream cone from our local McDonalds.

Completing additional bingos gives kids entries into our prize drawings (we have a bunch of games in our display case they can win). If they complete the full card, they will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card.

Teen participants receive a book when they sign up for the program, and earn “book bucks” which are an incentive teens earn at all YA programs to spend year round on a variety of drawings and prizes.

Adults finishers earn a deck of cards with a snazzy case (embossed with our library logo) and they are entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card or their choice of four different gift baskets.

We have special programs and events that coordinate with the WRP. Our kickoff event every year is a hot cocoa bar with super yummy cocoa from a local coffee & ice cream shop and cookies for everyone who visits the library the first day of Winter Reading.

We have a variety of passive programming available such as Game Day Sundays where staff in each department put out a variety of board games each Sunday during January and February. In Youth Services, giant tic tac toe, checkers, and chess games are out for patron usage all week long.

Some of the special programs we are holding during Winter Reading include a life size Candy Land game, bingo and bunco for adults, a board game program for adults called GamerZ held offsite at local pizza joint, where the Library will provide light appetizers. Ongoing gaming activities that mesh with our theme include youth Mario kart tournaments, our youth Pokémon trading card league, and a Minecrafters club.

All of this means more planning for our SRP/WRP committee, but the dividends are too awesome to not have a program.  It is all worth it when we can increase library usage and make our patrons happier than ever.


  1. Brienne

    We also do a Book Bingo program for our Winter Reading Program. When they register they put their name on a paper book to add to our “book shelf” and they also get a stamp. We have 3 different age groups, each age group has a slightly different BINGO card. Each box on the BINGO card has a subject/genre. Children need to read/or be read to a book that fits that category. Once they finish they stamp the square and write the title on the back of their card. Once they get a line down they come in to play a Plinko type game and choose a prize from one of the prize jars.

  2. Alexa

    Ooh — I like the Plinko idea — that sounds cool!

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