Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Reading Kick-Off

Phew! I started at around 9am, when I sneaked into the dark, quiet library. As I was lugging tables out into the lobby, I recognized a familiar back outside the library. It was my volunteer from last year! Her mom had dropped her off early and I gladly sneaked her in as well! We set up tables in the lobby with t-shirts ($7 each to fund our end of summer reading party) and for registration and lugged out the carts of free books and reading bags. Then we set up the community room for our performing, The Amazing Al!

At 10, the library opened and my other volunteer showed up, as well as my aide and my performer! We started signing people up like crazy. I've made some changes to the summer reading program and this is how it's working this summer:

Age 0-2 receive a "baby bag" with a boardbook, helpful information from various community groups, and some coupons donated by local groups. I have 100 bags, we'll just see how long they last.

Age 3-12 receive a reading bag with bookmark, reading log, invitation to the end of summer party, and various coupons and brochures. They pick out a free book as well! For each 15 minutes they read, they fill in a square. When they've read 2 hours they get a small prize. When they've read 10 hours, they get a packet of passes (planetarium, state parks, local history thingy). Then they have to read 4 hours to earn a small prize and when they reach around 22 they get a pizza from a local pizzeria. They can read another 6 hours or so and earn a couple more small prizes and then they're DONE.

Teens get a reading bag with a couple entry forms, reading tattoo, heat-sensing pencil, and invitations to the end of summer reading pizza party and twilight party. I also put in brochures from the library that's about 15 minutes away, b/c they actually have teen programs. Teens get to pick a free book too! Teens turn in a drawing slip and little review for each book they read and have a chance to win 1 of 5 drawing prizes at the end of the summer.

12 and 13 can decide which program they want to do - about half of them wanted the prizes, the others would rather be "cool".

We started an adult summer reading program this year as well, which is pretty much the same as the teens except they're doing drawings each week.

So, The Amazing Al turned out to be pretty darn amazing! His illusions held the kids spellbound for an hour and they laughed constantly (he was also VERY affordable!) We had about 90 people, which was more than the 75 we had last year (also a very good magician, but much more flashy - and expensive).

I signed up at least 150 kids for summer reading. Phew! Only about 10-15 teens, and nobody over 14. Oh well. Nothing I didn't expect. This year I just made a hash mark for the kids' age and school, instead of having them fill out registration sheets for each child. Sooooo much faster, but it was still crazy!

Things I might try next year:
  • Some kind of self-sign-up? Online won't work since they have to come in and get their reading bag and book, but I might make giant posters of ages and schools and have them put a sticker in their column or something. Or maybe separate lines for different ages. The problem is they come in giant bunches....
  • Better labels for the boxes the reading bags are in. Maybe see if I can find a different bag for the babies. I just tied some red yarn around each handle and it was confusing.
  • Steal one of my ys carts to put the chapter books on. The cart I currently use is open underneath and every time a kid pulls out a book they all collapse.
  • Maybe make the teen program "age 13-15" since that's the only ages I get anyways and have more drawing prizes if I can get some more donations. The older teens can join the adult program. I must admit I don't feel very charitable towards the teens due to the large number of thefts and vandalism in the teen area over the past couple weeks. (I told my volunteers they're young adults not teens. I am only mad at teens)
  • I have already decided, looking at the large volume of kids, that I need more than 1 prize box. This confused people last year when I tried it, b/c some kids thought they got a prize from each box, but the large volume of people is making my little plastic bin look ridiculous. I'll have to see what I can come up with.


Peaceful Reader said...

As an elementary school library I hardly ever think about the fact that a public children's librarian would get busier just as I'm beginning to relax! Love your thought process about your reading program-so much to consider. Happy summer reading!!

Jennifer said...

Yeah, I'm hoping for at least 600 kids to sign up this year by the end - that will be more than last year, but still only 1/3 of the kids in town! My ultimate goal is to have 90% of kids sign up....Lots of collaboration from teachers and school librarians makes it possible. We have GREAT school librarians here - you guys rock!