Finalists Revealed for the Inaugural U.S. BANANAGRAMS® Challenge

Twelve students are headed to live Grand Final of the inaugural U.S. BANANAGRAMS® Challenge in Rhode Island, home state to Bananagrams, Inc., on April 9.  The 12 defeated 10,000 other 4th-6th graders throughout New England to a place in the final and will now compete to be crowned America’s first-ever ‘Top Banana.’

The finalists will compete against each other in rounds of BANANAGRAMS before the overall winner is presented with a specially-designed trophy and $1,000 for his or her school by Rena Nathanson, inventor of the anagram game, who’ll also take part in a live Q&A session with the kids. The Final, taking place at the Omni Providence Hotel, will be hosted by local personality Ace Aceto, who’ll also present all finalists with an exclusive BANANAGRAMS goody bag.

“I’m delighted that the Challenge has proved so popular and I’m really excited about meeting the 12 finalists on April 9!” said Rena Nathanson, Bananagrams’ CEO. “The BANANAGRAMS Challenge is the result of years of hard work and is something my father and I talked about when we first invented the game back in 2006. Part of the reason BANANAGRAMS was born was out of a desire to help kids play with words, which ultimately enhances their appreciation of language and their grasp of spelling and literacy. But more than that, the game is about having fun – and there’s going to be a lot of that at the Grand Final!”


The complete lists of finalists is:

Keely Cahoon, 5th Grade, Ralph D. Butler Elementary School, Avon, MA
Grant Culton, 4th Grade, Hampden Meadows School, Barrington, RI
Braedan Curran, 5th Grade, E. G. Molin Upper Elementary School, Newburyport, MA
Hope Gee, 6th Grade, Archie R. Cole Middle School, East Greenwich, RI
Connor Gonyea, 6th Grade, Trinity Catholic Academy, Southbridge, MA
Sebastien Martinez, 4th Grade, Yarmouth Elementary School, Yarmouth, ME
Jay Nagpaul, 6th Grade, Worcester Academy, Worcester, MA
Julia Pulley, 6th Grade, Perry Hill School, Shelton, CT
Ania Ricci, 5th Grade, Kingston Intermediate School, Kingston, MA
Julia Shellard, 5th Grade, Oak Lawn Elementary, Cranston, RI
Kaede Shimamura, 4th Grade, Lyndon Town School, Lyndon, VT
Jaida Tillinghast, 4th Grade, George J Peters, Cranston, RI

More than 10,000 children in hundreds of schools throughout the New England were given the opportunity to “Go Wild With Words” in the first official U.S. BANANAGRAMS tournament for schools. As part of its mission to get children playing with words and to help celebrate BANANAGRAMS 10th Bananaversary, Bananagrams, Inc. created the Challenge to help boost vocabulary and spelling skills in classrooms and after-school programs. 

Visit for further information about The BANANAGRAMS Challenge. Schools interested in taking part in the 2017 Challenge can also now register via the website.

"We all love Bananagrams – such a fun game for all ages!"
— Cindy Crawford
"Playing Bananagrams with friends! I love this game! I was just named Bananagrams Ninja! Be afraid, I’m amazing!"
— Kelly Clarkson
"(I'm a) self-proclaimed Bananagrams champion..."
— Andrew Luck | Indianapolis Colt's Quarterback
“Why it's fun: Manages to be speedy, challenging and super-simple at the same time.”
— AARP Magazine on Zip-It
“Can you spell P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-O-N”
— Boston Globe
“Bananagrams go Hebrew. We’re kvelling!”
— Cool Mom Picks
“Good luck prying this anagram game [Bananagrams] away from students.”
— Scholastic
“Appletters will tickle word lovers to the core.”
— Everyday with Rachael Ray
“Gotta love the Bananagrams.”
— Kathie Lee Gifford
“This [Bananagrams] is so portable, I stash it in my car.”
— Kristen Bell
“Who’s up for a round of Bananagrams, anybody?”
— Jimmy Kimmel
“I love Bananagrams.”
— Ellen DeGeneres
"Maggie Smith loves it. They'll be like 'can we have you back on set' and she's just like [imperious wave of the hand] 'not now.' "
— Lily James, Lady Rose on Downton Abbey
" of my favorite games ever, Bananagrams – a fun, fast,addictive word game that will become a family favorite"
— Katie Couric