Carnival of Reading Challenge offered to spur young minds

For the entire month of August, the Haddonfield Public Library has found a way to keep young minds active and engaged with the written word. Enter the Carnival of Reading Challenge, available online and from an app through Beanstack.

“Since our summer reading program was over in July, Eric (library director Zino) and I thought this would be a fun thing to do for the last month before the kids go back to school,” said Cathy DeCampli, emerging technology and teen librarian, on Aug. 9 

Beanstack is a software reading program creation tool, which library personnel can customize to present different types of challenges based on subject and age range: Competitions can be linked to reading or other activities related to reading, like drawing and book reviews.  

After an account is set up, participating students will be asked to read every day, then log how many minutes or hours he or she spent reading. Once finished, there are connections to old style carnival games, along with instructions on how to play them. 

“Eric and I had already purchased Beanstack and used it throughout the year to keep everyone reading, not just kids but teens and adults, too, who might need a boost,” DeCampli added. “This company has some already created templates that we can modify if we need to, and we took this one in a carnival direction specifically for the kids.” 

Some of the activities with a big top theme DeCampli cited are throwing beanbags, filling a jar with candy and guessing the number of pieces, building a tower with cups or even researching the history of towns in the state. 

In a world where technology has become ubiquitous even for younger children, it has become more of a challenge to find incentives to keep them interested and involved as the last days of summer melt away. DeCampli said she hasn’t seen much of a change with children in Haddonfield, but admitted it does help to have a carrot at the end of the stick.  

“The carnival is intended for children up to age 10,” she noted. “And yes, it definitely helps to have something tangible (as a reward) at the end. You get a badge in the app as a reward or achievement.

“If you read for one hour, you get a badge through the challenge that you only get through participating in the challenge.”

For those who will stick with the program until the end of the month, the reward will be a trip to the library. Children who have read for at least 10 hours then log that activity for the entire month, and they’ll be able to complete all the work to earn activity badges. 

“That’s when they will be able to come in and select a prize from the activity box. And we will do the same thing throughout the school year as well,” DeCampli said. 

While the challenge is designed for students to track themselves individually, DeCampli explained that families can also participate. Each family member would have their own account, and then groups of friends and classmates or family members can challenge each other. 

DeCampli said there’s no cumulative payoff at the end of the month, except for avid readers to await the next challenge she and Zino may come up with in September and beyond.  

The program is available to all readers aged 10 and under at:  haddonfieldlibrary.beanstack.com.