July 14, 2015

Seattle encourages summer reading with a book bingo game


The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures are leading a Summer Books Bingo game. © alexmillos / via Shutterstock

The Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures are leading a Summer Books Bingo game.
© alexmillos / via Shutterstock

Every summer, schools and libraries ramp up their summer reading programs, in an effort to keep kids reading during the months they spend away from school. This year, cultural institutions in Seattle are teaming up to offer something similar for adult readers.

Linda Johns, a librarian at the Seattle Public Library, writes for the Huffington Post that the Library—along with Seattle Arts and Lectures—is offering Summer Book Bingo for anyone 16 and older. You can download a PDF of the bingo card from their website, and fill it in over the course of the summer with books that you’ve read that match the various categories (each title can only be used once on your card). The twenty-five squares include categories such as “Checked out from the library,” “Recommended by a friend,” “Out of your comfort zone,” and “Translated from another language,” along with genres such as memoir, graphic novel, and poetry and short story collections; and the center square (traditionally the free space on a bingo card) is “Passionately recommend a book to a friend.”

There are prizes on the line: the back of the card stipulates that if you get five squares in a row, you can turn in your card at a library branch to be entered into a drawing for a $30 gift certificate from a participating local bookstore. And if you turn in a blackout card, with all twenty-five filled in, you’ll be entered for a chance to win the grand prize, a library of books by 2015/16 Seattle Arts & Lectures authors and two tickets to the entire SAL season.

It would, for the less honorable among us, be tempting to cheat, given the program’s reliance on the honor system. But the organizers have thought of this, and include fine print on the card that reads more like a curse: “You are on your honor to read books before adding them to your Summer Book Bingo card. Cheating, skimming, or reading Cliffsnotes will invoke bad summer karma, which may include sunburn, ants at your picnics, or marauding mosquitoes.”

At any rate, Johns says that the main point of the game is not the prizes, but to get people talking about what they’re reading. The library and SAL are encouraging people to share their cards on social media. “The absolute best part is that people around the city are talking about what they’re reading,” she writes. “We’re hearing about it in our libraries, seeing people share what they’re reading for each square on Twitter and Instagram (#BookBingoNW), and listening in while readers offer each other suggestions to get to bingo… I find this city-wide focus on reading — and talking about books — extremely satisfying… We can feel the satisfaction of finishing a good book and writing the title in a bingo square.”


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.