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Mensa for Kids' Excellence in Reading

To encourage the joy of reading, the Foundation has developed the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program. Earn a commemorative certificate in recognition of your outstanding achievement and get an Excellence in Reading T-shirt, too!

The Mensa Foundation recognizes and encourages education, gifted youth, and lifelong learning through resources like the Mensa for Kids website and other programs for youth and those who support them. This program is open internationally to any and all readers under 18 years of age, their teachers, and librarians.

Acknowledging the value of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ appreciation of classic literature for young people, the Mensa Foundation is providing a year-round challenge to kids of all ages based on the NEH’s Summertime Favorites and Nonfiction Favorites reading lists, with some alterations.

To participate in the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program, follow these steps:

  1. Select a list from the grade level bands listed below. Remember to read to the level of your ability or interest, regardless of your age or grade level.
  2. Print the appropriate list and track each book you read by checking it off and recording the date it was read, along with a rating. Electronic signatures and check-offs are not permitted. The form must be completed by hand. We operate on the honor system, and we encourage honesty in this way.
  3. Please submit the original form used, even if it is very messy. Copying the form over to make it neater may result in rejection of the form. We reserve the right to request additional confirmation of completion of the program and/or to refuse to grant recognition.
  4. Once you’ve completed an entire list, both the reader and an adult will need to sign the list as verification and return it and the order form to the Mensa Foundation at the address provided. Once we’ve received your signed list and verified it, we’ll send you a recognition certificate and T-shirt. Please allow 6 weeks for delivery.
  5. You may use five nonfiction books to replace any five books from the same grade-level segment.

Important Questions Answered

Is Mensa membership required?
No, the program is open to anyone, regardless of Mensa affiliation or membership.
Can parents read aloud to their child? Does that count?
Yes. The books may be read aloud. Readers can also listen to audio books or read the books online. Teachers may also read to their classes, and then parents must complete the order form.
What about Accelerated Reader tests? Does that count as verification?
Accelerated Reader records may be used as further verification, but the fact that a child took a test on a book is not sufficient to prove that he/she read the book.
Can readers receive recognition for levels below their actual grade level?
Yes. We recommend that readers begin at the reading level best for them and then move forward or backward in the list.
Are there additional recognition opportunities?
Everyone who completes a segment list will be awarded a certificate and a Mensa for Kids T-shirt for the first segment completed. Additional segments will be recognized with certificates. This is not a competition, though, and there are no monetary prizes.
Can I read everything on the nonfiction list for a recognition certificate and T-shirt?
No. The nonfiction list is available only as an option for replacements. You may select up to five titles from any grade level reading list to replace five titles from the nonfiction list.
Can I get credit for books I’ve already read?
For each list, you may count no more than five books previously read. The program is designed to encourage youth to read, and if a significant portion of a list has been read previously, you may either re-read the books or choose another list.

Teachers’ Questions Answered

Can teachers read aloud to the students? Does that count?
Yes. The books may be read aloud. Readers can also listen to audio books or read the books online. If the teacher reads the books aloud, careful attention must be paid to students who are absent, and they must make up that title. A reader cannot count a book as read that was read to the class on a day the student was not there.
If one child in the class reads the book, does every child in the class get credit for that book?
No. Every single book must be read by every child submitting a list.
Can the teacher submit a form and be recognized as well?
Yes. The program is open to youth under 18, as well as teachers and librarians.
If the teacher reads the list to the class, who fills out the form?
The teacher may assist with the list of the books and may sign as the adult verifying that the list was read. The parent’s contact information should be filled in on the order form.
Will you send the shirts and certificates to the school?
Yes. Fill in the order form with the parent’s contact information, and then indicate that the certificate and T-shirt should be sent to the school and include that address.
What are some ways I can motivate my students to complete their reading lists?
You may wish to organize a schoolwide Read-a-Thon or set classroom goal of reading a certain number of hours each week. Once your students have completed their lists, consider ways your classroom and school communities can celebrate their accomplishments, including: 1. Recognizing awardees at a school assembly, 2. Giving them a shoutout in a yearbook, newspaper, or other publication, 3.rewarding finishers with a movie watch party (especially if it’s a movie adaptation of a book from their reading list!)