Middle School Reading Bingo – Free Card + 5 Implementation Tips

For librarians and elementary schools, Reading Bingo isn’t a new idea. I’ve seen countless printable Reading Bingo cards online, both free and for sale.

When I was at the elementary level, my students went bananas for Reading Bingo! By the end of the school year, I had collected hundreds of Bingo cards (I kept them in a binder) and given out all kinds of different prizes.

In elementary, the hardest part about a Reading Bingo program is keeping up with the students’ enthusiasm for it!


Middle school students, however, are a tougher crowd. It seems that many middle schoolers either really love or really hate reading. For those students who haven’t decided how they feel about reading, the middle years are crucial to creating either lifelong readers or non-readers who dismiss reading as only a school activity. If they already hate reading, middle school may be their last opportunity to turn those thoughts around.

It is vital that we give our middle school non-readers the gentle shove they need to land them into the group that loves reading.

So how do we adapt Reading Bingo into something that is popular with middle schoolers? Five ideas that may help…

Download this FREE Middle School Reading Bingo Card in my Freebie Library.Middle School Reading Bingo First Card Freebie

This freebie is great if you are not sure about Reading Bingo in your school. If you just want to give it a try, click here to see it in my Free Resource Library.

Looking for more? The full version is at the bottom of this post.

1. Make Middle School Reading Bingo categories both general and specific.

General categories enable students to choose just about any book for the square.

Categories like “A book someone recommended to you” or “an audiobook” could be virtually any title.

Adding in some more specific categories, such as “A book with a train or ship on the cover,” help keep the game interesting. It’s like a scavenger hunt for books!

2. Don’t require students to read all the squares, or blackout, the card.

As much as I’d like to see students read 50 books in a school year, I know that this is unlikely for many of them.

Far too many middle schoolers find that reading just one book is a huge mountain to climb.

My cards have only 16 squares. If students read one row on their card, they have 10 groups of 4 books to choose from (4 across, 4 down, 2 diagonals). Allowing them to read the four corners adds an 11th option.

3. Allow ELA classes to earn a class party by working together to complete one or two cards.

This is a great way to “crowdsource” the Reading Bingo Cards. The entire class would work together to complete one Bingo card at a time.

When the entire class finishes all 16 squares on one card, they get a class reward. Examples of class rewards might be a class period reading outdoors, a popsicle party, or an extra library day for the class.

Whole-class Bingo cards also benefit struggling readers, ESL students, or students who just don’t love reading. A whole-class Reading Bingo encourages students to read with a partner or form a book club.

You could sweeten the benefits for book club students by allowing them to meet in the library during lunch or before and after school. Bonus points if you participate in the student book clubs!

4. Help students stay honest by offering win-win prizes.

Small prizes like pencils and bookmarks often don’t motivate middle schoolers. Awesome prizes (field trips) will motivate some to lie about or rush through their reading just to get the prize.

The best prizes for middle schoolers are prizes that help reactivate the intrinsic pleasure of reading. Some examples might include:

Allow time out of class to read in the library.

  • Use Scholastic points or bookfair proceeds to allow students to choose free or discounted books.
  • Arrange days to take students who want to read outside when the weather is nice.
  • Schedule an author Skype with cookies and hot chocolate.
  • Take a small group to the public library each month.
  • Plan “Read in your pajamas” (or hats or crazy socks) days for students who have completed a Bingo row that month.

All of these ideas are either free or very cheap, and they reinforce the idea that reading is a pleasurable activity, not just something you have to do for school.

I call these win-win prizes because even if the student completely fakes his or her reading, the prize is more chances to read. Few students would fake-read in order to earn more time to fake-read.

And even if they did…fake reading is still better than NO reading, right? Even fake reading can lead to actual reading if the student finds the right book for them.

5. Please, please make Middle School Reading Bingo optional.

I get so sad seeing how many “reading incentive” programs are required for a grade. This goes against everything I’ve ever read or heard about best practices for libraries.

Even Renaissance Learning, the company behind the Accelerated Reader program, advises against using AR as a classroom grade.

Grades are the realm of the classroom. Libraries go so far beyond grades. Virtually no adult is in a public library because they are getting a grade for being there.

If we want students to become lifelong learners, they need to learn to intrinsically love reading and learning. That isn’t done with grades.

We want students to enjoy reading and to choose to do it.

When it comes to reading for pleasure, middle school is make-it-or-break-it time for some students. We need to encourage them to read for pleasure, which is the primary aim of any reading incentive program.

Requiring Reading Bingo or any other incentive program for a grade is counter-productive.


I’ve included a freebie Reading Bingo card (linked above).

Give it a try, and if you and your students like it, you may consider purchasing my other Bingo cards and sets below.

Unlike most of the online Reading Bingo cards that are usually for elementary students, I created all of my cards specifically for middle schoolers!

This is a set of 6 different Reading Bingo Cards. Includes PPT, Google Slides, and PDF versions of all cards. 100% editable.Middle School Reading Bingo Full Set

If you are ready to start Reading Bingo with your students, or if you want an editable version that also includes Google Slides Bingo cards, this is the one for you!

Click here to see it in my TPT store and here to see it in the MrsReaderPants store.

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