CHATHAM – The staff of the Eldredge Public Library is always looking for ways to promote reading and the library. So when Assistant Director Amy Andreasson and Youth Services Library Tammy DePasquale sat down last fall to plan out social media for the coming months and discovered that December was the birthday month of bingo, the light bulbs lit up.
“The more we looked at it the more we thought we could do something fun and tie it into literacy,” DePasquale said. “We're always looking for fun ways to promote the library, books, literacy, the fun of reading.”
The result was Winter Book Bingo. DePasquale and Andreasson created a bingo sheet with 25 squares, each with a topic or subject that can relate to a book – almost any book. Patrons write the title of a book they've read in the appropriate square, or squares. A book by a female author, for instance, may also apply to another square, such as a staff pick or historical fiction.
“I think it's a fun challenge,” DePasquale said.
It's also a way to nudge readers out of their comfort zone, similar to Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge, which encourages readers to stretch the limits of what they read.
“It's to push you to read outside of what you would normally pick up,” she said. For instance, while there's a square for mysteries, she hopes someone who usually favors mysteries might use the bingo challenge to read historical fiction or short stories.
Coming up with the topics for each square was fun and challenging. They tried to cover a wide variety of genres, ideas and subjects, such as poetry, trilogies, young adult books, holidays and banned books.
“Sometimes people don't even understand what that is, but by taking a look at it they might say, oh my gosh, how do I feel about that book being on the list?” DePasquale said.
How many people are participating in book bingo is uncertain, but they've made multiple copies and even received an envelope full of completed bingo sheets from library patrons who live outside of town. Kids, parents and seniors have all mentioned that they're working on bingo sheets. Completed bingo sheets are due Feb. 28, so there's not a lot of time to take part, although DePasquale emphasized that one book – the right book – can fill numerous squares. Completed sheets will be entered into a drawing, but she won't say what the prize is.
“It will be literacy based, exciting, it will make you want to join in next time,” she said.