Best Reading Challenge Ideas  & Contests for Your Classroom

There’s nothing like a reading challenge to get kids excited about picking up a book! Whether they’re competing against each other, themselves, or working together to earn a prize for the whole class, reading challenges are a tried-and-true way to encourage kids to read. Below, we share some of our favorite reading challenge ideas and contests for the classroom.

How to Start Your Reading Challenge

First, pick a number of books to tackle. Younger children who are reading early readers and picture books will be able to read more than older kids who are reading chapter books—you want a challenge, not a cakewalk, but don’t make it impossible either! Four chapter books in a month or 10 picture books or early readers is a good place to start; if your students crush their goal, add another book to the challenge next month!

While 52 books in 52 weeks and challenges of that nature are common for adults, for classrooms it’s a good idea to set a more specific theme to help students broaden their horizons. Choose a theme that relates to a recent or current learning unit or choose from one of the themes below. Create a log for students to track their reading and make sure you have fun prizes to reward their efforts. Purchase small prizes so everyone’s individual work is rewarded, then plan a group prize like a pajama day or pizza party if everyone in the classroom hits their goal.

Here are some theme ideas:

Books About a Different Time

You can leave this open-ended so students can choose any timeframe they’re interested in learning about or you can link it up with a recent history lesson and choose a specific era. Make sure you provide a list of relevant books if you’re sticking with a certain timeframe so students have some ideas to choose from!

Books About a Different Place

Reading about different countries and regions in a textbook is one thing, but reading stories from the perspective of those living there is another. Encourage students to select books set in faraway places or choose a specific place you’ve recently been studying in the classroom. You can also move through a continent each month and travel the whole world by the end of the school year.

Books About Animals

Let kids choose to read books about their favorite animals, a type of animal, or any animal at all! You might want to have them read one non-fiction book and one fiction book about each animal they choose to read about.

Books About Magical Worlds

Books don’t just have the ability to transport us to different places on the globe—they also take us to make-believe worlds full of magic. Some of the most treasured children’s books take place in alternate realities where magic is real.

Books That Have Won the Caldecott Medal

Speaking of treasured books, one way to ensure your students are reading quality literature is to create a challenge that has them reading Caldecott Medal winners. There’s no shortage of books to choose from here and your school library may already have a section devoted to them.

Books That Your Parents Loved When They Were Kids

Here’s a great way to foster a love of reading within the family—have students ask their parents about their favorite books when they were kids, then read them for your reading challenge.

Order Reading Challenge Prizes from GEDDES

To order fun prizes to reward your students for completing your reading challenge, visit the GEDDES website to shop our full selection online, request our catalog today, or contact us to learn more about our products and our mission.