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NHR Spelling Bee

Save the Date:

Our 4th Annual Spelling Bee will be

Friday October 23, 2015!


Click here for more information about our 2015 Bee


Our 3rd Annual Spelling Bee was a fantastic event!

Thank you to everyone including our sponsors, supporters, volunteers, staff, and spellers!

We had a record-breaking year with 45 teams! It was un-BEE-lievable. We are looking forward to another great year.


Thank you for your support for New Haven Reads!
Any questions? Please contact Fiona at


Presented by:


 Stay tuned for more information regarding the Bee in 2015!


As this event is a fundraiser for our free community literacy programs, each team registration will cost $225. Be sure to register early.

  • To register and pay your participation fee online, click the yellow button below.
  • If you’d prefer to print out the registration form and mail in a check with your registration fee, you can download the form and instructions here.

Thank you to our Spelling Bee Sponsors in 2014!

Our Presenting Sponsor was:

Our Gold Sponsors

Gray Organschi Architecture

Faxon Law Group


Our Silver Sponsors

Janney Montgomery Scott

NewAlliance Foundation

The Study at Yale

Our Bronze Sponsors

Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Hopkins School

Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.

Yale-New Haven Hospital


Other Ways to Support:
Team Sponsorship & Program Ads

Want a way to support the Spelling Bee without actually participating as a speller? You can sponsor a team! Put one together of friends or family members. Or, sponsor a community team! Each year we get community teams of individuals who want to participate but need help covering their registration fee–from high school students to AmeriCorps volunteers. Download our sponsorship form below.

 Do you run a local business or organization? Purchase a program ad! Our Bee will have about 300 adult attendees who live in and around New Haven — a prime target demographic for restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, gyms, printing companies– you name it! Advertise your business and help support literacy services for New Haven’s children at the same time. Download information about our program ad prices and specs below.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Bee

1.       How can I support the Bee without being on a team?

There are lots of other ways to be involved in the New Haven Reads Spelling Bee! You can:

2.       The idea of spelling in front of people makes me nervous. I am still traumatized from my 5th grade spelling bee.

This is a Bee for teams of three adults who work together to write down the correct spelling of each word. The focus is never on you individually! There are approximately seven teams in each “swarm.” All the teams stay on the stage until there’s a winner of that swarm, and then they all exit together.

Here’s how it works: All the teams in your swarm enter together and stand at individual team tables. The word is announced, defined, and used in a sentence. Then teams have 20 seconds to write down their spelling of the word.  When the timing buzzer goes off, each team holds up its spelling of the word for the judges to see. As long as your team spells the word correctly, you are still in the competition for your swarm. When there is only one team standing, that swarm is over. The winners of each swarm meet in a final round. The spotlight is never on any one person, only on the winning team.

 3.       Do I have to study before the competition?

No studying is required. Some teams like to study together – it’s a bonding experience – and we have a few lists linked below on our Spelling Bee page with the kinds of words that might appear in the Bee (although we don’t post our official word list anymore). No one knows which words will be used; the judges receive the list at the actual Bee.

4.       I am a terrible speller, but I’d still like to be on a team. Is there a non-spelling role that I can play?  

Find two really good spellers to be on a team with you. Offer to be in charge of costumes, or to be the Chief of Moral Support.

5.       Costumes????? Do people REALLY dress up?

Yes! We had some amazing team names and costumes to match last year: “Zombies” from The Study at Yale; “Grapes” from Claire’s Corner Copia; “Scrabble pieces;” “Super Mario characters;” “Bees”; Word Doctors – you name it. The costumes add to the fun, and we offer a special prize for the team in the best costume. It is just before Halloween, so you’ll have a costume ready for October 31st.  We have some suggestions for team costumes below in our Resources section. Have fun and “bee” creative!


This year, our planning committee has decided that we will provide links to resources to help our teams who are interested in studying a little bit before the bee. We will not be providing a list of words from which our competition words will be chosen. All of our words will come from Merriam-Webster and the decision of the judges will be final! Feel free to consult these resources to get an idea of the types of words you might encounter as well as strategies for recognizing word roots.

If you are looking for ideas for your team costume, check out last year’s photos and these links:

In the News – Spelling Bee 2013

“New Haven Reads adult spelling bee promises lost of f-u-n”New Haven Register | October 13, 2013

“Misfits Sting Geezers at New Haven Reads Spelling Bee”New Haven Independent | October 28, 2013

“New Haven Reads Second Annual Spelling Bee” | YaleNews | October 28, 2013

Questions? Contact us at

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