Billionaire’s Global Reading Challenge Completed in Under Four Weeks; A Wrinkle in Time Tops All Books for January

Washington, DC — The inaugural Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge for libraries came to a successful close this month, as more than 100 libraries all over the country and South Korea far eclipsed an ambitious goal set by investor and Shark Tank personality Mark Cuban.

The billionaire had challenged communities to meet a collective goal of reading at least one million minutes and 50,000 books during the month of January. With $35,000 on the line, readers rose to the occasion, surpassing the “minutes” target in Week 2, and the “books” target in Week 4. Ultimately, participants logged 84,002 books, plus a remarkable seven million minutes of reading time. (For scale: at eight hours a day, that’s more than 39 years of reading.)


Classics Lead the Way

The most popular books included both old favorites and new page-turners. Goodnight Moon led the way for the preschool set, while Harry Potter titles topped the list for young students. To Kill a Mockingbird was the number one choice for teens, followed by newer titles such as Nicola Yoon’s 2015 romance Everything, Everything, and Alexandra Diaz’s 2017 immigrant novel The Only Road. Among adults, Dan Brown’s 2017 thriller Origin was the runner-up, while the most-read title turned out to be A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 science-fiction novel, which benefited from the upcoming release of a movie adaptation starring Oprah Winfrey.


Seven high-performing libraries were selected for special honors:

  • Bud Werner Library, CO;
  • Keene Memorial Library, NE;
  • Lincoln City Libraries, NE;
  • MacDonald Public Library, MI;
  • Menasha Joint School District, WI;
  • Paramus Public Library, NJ;
  • Suffolk Public Library, VA.

Using Cutting-Edge Software to Track Reading

The Winter Reading Challenge was coordinated through Beanstack, an innovative software that takes a modern approach to managing reading programs, bringing everything online and making it easy for librarians and readers alike to set up and maintain accounts to track their reading. It can also suggest more titles readers might enjoy based on their interests and reading “doorways.”

Cuban became an investor in parent-company Zoobean after the founders impressed him with their vision on Shark Tank in 2013. Beanstack currently serves over 600 libraries globally. “Libraries are the lifeblood of so many communities, and we love having the opportunity to further their work in this way,” says Zoobean co-founder and Chief Client Success Officer, Jordan Lloyd Bookey.

Social Nonprofit First Book Will Use Prize Money to Help More Kids

Of Cuban’s prize money, $25,000 was donated to to First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. The remaining $10,000, plus a $1,500 bonus from Zoobean, was distributed to the top-performing libraries. The funds can be used for community programs or donated to nonprofit organizations in each library’s area. “I’m inspired by the work libraries do for their communities,” says Cuban. “The prize for everyone is to pay it forward to an awesome organization focused on literacy and access to books.”

Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 170 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families. “I believe that the most powerful force in the world is empathy,” says First Book’s president, co-founder and CEO Kyle Zimmer. “First Book is an ardent supporter of libraries and we are thrilled to be part of this program. We will absolutely put that $25,000 to work, serving kids in need.”



  • Homewood Public Library


  • City of Commerce Public Library
  • Huntington Beach Public Library
  • Monrovia Public Library
  • Woodland Public Library


  • Bud Werner Memorial Library


  • Dover Public Library
  • New Castle Public Library


  • Orange County Library System
  • Sarasota County Library System
  • Winter Park Public Library
  • Yokosuka MWR Library


  • Marshes of Glynn Libraries


  • Hawaii State Public Library System


  • Aurora Public Library
  • Forest Park Public Library
  • Jerseyville Public Library
  • Matteson Area Public Library District
  • Oswego Public Library District
  • Plainfield Public Library District
  • Schaumburg Township District Library
  • Wauconda Area Library


  • Allen County Public Library
  • Hamilton East Public Library
  • New Albany-Floyd County Public Library


  • Des Moines Public Library
  • Musser Public Library
  • Waukee Public Library


  • Daviess County Public Library


  • Calvert Library
  • Charles County Public Library
  • Howard County Library System
  • Prince George's County Memorial Library System
  • Wicomico Public Libraries


  • MacDonald Public Library


  • Scott County Library


  • First Regional Library


  • Christian County Library


  • Keene Memorial Library
  • Lincoln City Libraries
  • Ralston's Baright Public Library

New Jersey

  • Alexandria Township School District
  • Clark Public Library
  • East Rutherford Memorial Library
  • Englewood Public Library
  • Fort Lee Public Library
  • Montclair Public Library
  • North Hunterdon High School
  • Norwood Public Library
  • Nutley Public Library
  • Paramus Public Library
  • Roxbury Public Library
  • Teaneck Public Library

New York

  • Berne Public Library
  • Crandall Public Library
  • Guilderland Public Library
  • Huntington Public Library
  • Lakeview Public Library
  • Liverpool Public Library
  • Valley Falls Free Library


  • Carson City Library

North Carolina

  • Durham County Library
  • John L. Throckmorton Library


  • Muskingum County Library System
  • Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library


  • McMinnville Public Library

South Dakota

  • Yankton Community Library


  • NAF Atsugi Station Library
  • The Brentwood Library


  • Balch Springs Library & Learning Center
  • Crowley Public Library
  • K-16 Air Base Library
  • Mesquite Public Library
  • NAS Fort Worth JRB Library
  • Prosper Community Library
  • Schertz Public Library


  • Alexandria Library
  • Arlington Public Library
  • Dahlgren General Library
  • Suffolk Public Library


  • Mount Vernon City Library


  • Kenosha Public Library
  • La Crosse Public Library
  • Menasha Joint School District


  • Camp Walker Library (SOUTH KOREA)
  • CFA Chinhae Library (SOUTH KOREA)


Beanstack ( is an online platform for local families to participate in reading programs, early literacy initiatives, and book clubs. The service provides tools to track their reading and earn incentives, as well as sending personalized emails or text messages recommending a book or upcoming event. For libraries and schools, Beanstack makes it easy to register patrons, create reading and activity challenges, and produce extensive reports. The entire experience is set apart by the software’s easy usability and customized, mobile-first design. In 2018, Beanstack plans to launch a first-of-its-kind mobile app designed to encourage reading all year long.


First Book transforms the lives of children in need. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book is creating equal access to quality education — making everything from brand-new, high-quality books and educational resources, to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more – affordable to its member network of more than 350,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 170 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families in more than 30 countries. First Book currently reaches an average of 3 million children every year and supports more than one in four of the estimated 1.3 million classrooms and programs serving children in need. With an additional 1,000 educators joining each week, First Book is the largest and fastest-growing network of educators in the United States exclusively serving kids in need.

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at For more information, please visit or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.