I began working at the library last year on May 5, 2008. So I was not exactly prepared for the summer reading program! I found a couple boxes of materials purchased by the library's previous director (the new director hired me a few weeks after starting...) including reading logs and some prizes, asked circ staff how the reading program had been managed in previous years, scrambled to get some letters out asking for local donations (we had no budget for performers or prizes) and made school visits with our new director. We had a larger registration than in previous years, but average to low attendance for programs (probably because I hadn't managed to do any publicity)
Last year, and in previous years, kids age 2 through high school got gradually escalating prizes every two hours they read, as well as putting their name in for a prize drawing, up to 10 hours.
Specifically, last year we had a kids program, age 2-12, and a teen program, 13 and up. They got a prize and a drawing slip every two hours, then after 10 hours they got a small prize and a drawing slip every two hours. Then we had a grand drawing. Our prizes included misc. small things, misc. larger things, a book, state park passes supplied by the library system, etc.
It was a HUGE mess. Circ staff were exhausted handing out prizes, it was confusing, it was insane.
Next year, I thought, we'll do this differently.
I've been working all year on simplifying and streamlining the summer reading process. Some major changes:
Reference, not circ staff, will hand out prizes (cheers of exhausted circ staff!)
No separate teen and kid prizes. It got wildly confusing and I don't have that many teens anyways. I just mixed a wider variety of prizes together.
I made my own reading logs. Last year, the reading logs we purchased were 7 squares over and 9 down. The teen logs had thirty little shapes on them. Okay, mathematical geniuses, think about it. We do summer reading in two hour increments. It drove us all nuts! My reading logs are simple - 8 squares over, 5 squares down. You fill in a square for every 15 minutes you read and get a prize every row!
But my biggest changes were made just a couple weeks ago...
What are the goals of summer reading? Well, for me and my library...
1. Encourage all children, especially reluctant readers, to read, including family and independent readers. Therefore, we need attainable goals and incentives.
2. The prizes shouldn't outweigh the reading.
3. Every child gets their own book.
So to incorporate these, we have the new and improved summer reading program, debuting June 13th!
Children and teens (age 2 through high school) get to choose a free (new!) book when they register for summer reading.
Participants get a small prize and a drawing slip every two hours they read. Our library system provides various passes and they can choose one of these when they've read 10 hours. They can continue reading and earning a small prize and drawing slip every two hours.
Small prizes include stickers, pencils, hacky sack balls, kazoos, silly putty, harmonicas, finger puppets, beads, etc.
Our drawing prizes will be smaller things (in previous years they've had bicycles and dvd players! Insane!) such as a grab bag with marbles, clay, etc. Some sports stuff, soccer balls etc. Craft kits and so on.
We'll see how it goes!