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Every year Keene Memorial Library hosts its annual Summer Reading Program which aims to get people of all ages reading throughout the summer months.

In 2017, the program was again successful at encouraging reading as a total of 226 children, 25 teens and 64 adults signed up for the event held from May through August.

Now, for the first time ever, Keene is participating in another reading program that aims to get people reading throughout the month of January.

Keene will be participating in the inaugural Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge, which challenges close to 100 libraries all over the country to meet a collective goal of reading at least one million minutes and 50,000 books during the month.

“This is actually the first Winter Reading Challenge ever,” Librarian No. 2 Laura England Biggs said. “Mark Cuban, one of the sharks on ‘Shark Tank’ approached Beanstack and decided to sponsor the challenge.”

If the collective goal of reading at least one million minutes and 50,000 books is reached, Cuban has pledged to donate $25,000 to First Book and $10,000 for top-performing libraries to use for their community programs.

“Growing up, my mom used to give me a quarter for every book I read,” Cuban said in a released statement. “Through reading programs libraries run with Beanstack, they are providing these kinds of incentives for readers throughout the community. I love the idea that we will encourage readers through a shared, ambitious goal, and that the prize for everyone will be to pay if forward to an awesome organization focused on literacy and access to books.”

First Book is a non-profit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need.

Participating libraries, including Keene, will use Beanstack which is a software platform that facilitates reading programs for schools and libraries by making it easy to track the amount time and books read. Keene also uses the Beanstack platform during the annual Summer Reading Program.

“We are just very excited about this first Winter Reading Challenge and hope everyone signs up and participates with us,” England Biggs said.

According to England Biggs, the goal locally is for participants to read 69,750 minutes throughout the month of January.

Currently Keene has a total of 29 registrants for the challenge and hopes to reach a total of 150 readers.

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Although the program is geared toward getting children to read, parents and people of all ages are encouraged to participate.

“We just like to inspire people to read 15 minutes a day because we find that that keeps kids interested in reading,” England Biggs said. “If they see their parents reading they start to see it as important and they start to read, and reading really is one of the cornerstones to school success.”

According to England Biggs, even parents with children who cannot yet read on their own can participate in the challenge.

“If they want to register a kid they are reading too, like a child who is 6 months old, they can do that,” she said. “They can read to the child, and log the minutes for the child, but then they are also doing reading so they can log the minutes for themselves as well.”

The program runs from January 1-31st and those interested in participating can sign up throughout the month. To register, interested participants are encouraged to visit or visit the library.

“If they have any questions they can stop by the library, we have a computer set up that is designated for that and we can help them through it,” England Biggs said.



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