Elementary school students cheer in Worthen Arena.

Launched as pilot programs in 2016, Charlie’s Reading Challenge and its companion, Charlie’s Coloring Contest, continue to be big hits with elementary and preschool students.

“Kids love Charlie, and also love to read and color,” said Shawn Sullivan, associate athletic director of marketing and fan engagement.

In terms of getting our brand out to the community and helping kids at the same time, it’s been a true win-win for all.

In 2020, 2,047 students and 164 teachers across 11 east central Indiana counties completed requirements for the reading challenge, and 336 preschool students in Delaware County did the coloring contest.

Children engaging with Charlie's Coloring Challenge.
Preschoolers who take part in Charlie’s Coloring Contest can send their artwork back to Ball State where they’ll be put on display at Worthen Arena.

Game ON!

Here’s how they work: With Charlie’s Reading Challenge, elementary students complete four books at their reading level and also do a related project assigned by their teacher. For Charlie’s Coloring Contest, preschool kids color a picture of Charlie and send it back to Ball State, where their works of art are displayed at Worthen Arena prior to home basketball games.

With both programs, students who complete the requirements earn two free tickets to a basketball game. The programs are promoted by Ball State Athletics and the Office of Community Engagement.

“As much as we can, we also try to get Charlie Cardinal out to a few schools in person, and many of our student-athletes have volunteered to read books at the elementary schools,” Sullivan said. “We only see the programs growing in the years ahead.”