Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Reading Program 2011

I've noticed that Abby and some other librarians whose blogs I read have been sharing their summer reading plans, so I thought I'd join in, too.


My library system is centralized, which means that my instructions regarding major programs like summer reading come from administration, or, in the case of summer reading, a designated committee. This year, though I had the opportunity to join the summer reading planning committee, I didn't take it because I'm new and still learning how things work at my own branch. So my summer reading experiences so far have been shaped by the decisions made by the committee.

Here is how it's working:

Children birth to age 5 must come into the library to register. At that time, they receive a passport as their first incentive. The passport contains 7 pages, one for each continent on our globe. Each page has a series of circles on it, and one circle represents 15 minutes of reading. Their object is to fill in four circles on each page. When they have read for two hours, they win a coupon for a free donut from Dunkin' Donuts. At four hours, they receive a second coupon for a second free donuts. When they have read a total of 7 hours, they complete the program. The grand prizes are a picture book from Scholastic for kids up to 2nd grade, and a blank journal with the library's logo for 3rd grade through age 11. (Teens ages 12 and up have a separate program, but the entire thing takes place online.)

In addition to the reading contest, we also have a series of performers coming in to present musical programs, story times, and craft projects.

When it comes to all of this stuff, I am just a  representative of the library. I make sure the information is presented accurately to our customers, and take the registrations at the children's desk. But my own creativity only comes into play at the branch level.

At my branch: 

We kicked off the summer reading program last weekend - going on two weeks ago, already! - with a story time for birth to age 5 and a quilt craft for school-age kids. We handed out felt squares to the kids who wanted to participate, and they decorated their square with images and words that represented their interests, cultures, and personalities. We are currently brainstorming how best - and where best - to hang it, and then we'll give the kids their squares back when the summer comes to an end.

We've also added additional story time sessions to accommodate our growing crowds. My Tuesday morning Baby/Toddler story time has increased from two sessions, to three, and we've added a Tales for Fours and Fives on Thursday mornings for those Pre-K and K kids who will be out of school and in need of their own story time.

What we don't have is a regularly scheduled program for school-age kids, and that's because no one has come to any of  the programs we have tried to do - book discussions, movie showings, etc. - and we didn't know what else to try. We are doing one tween program to see if we get a turn-out, but I have no idea who or what to expect. That's the one thing I miss about my previous job - we did programming for every age group during the summer, and because we were so small, and served such a small population, we could afford all the supplies we needed. I'm probably going to be shelling out some of my own money to fund my tween program, and as much as I'd love to be able to do that all the time, I know I simply can't afford it.

But this is my first year here, and it's going to be a learning experience. I learn best by jumping in with both feet and figuring things out as I go, so by this time next year, I might feel more comfortable implementing my own ideas, and thinking outside the system's pre-determined framework. But for this summer, I'm just trying to get my bearings and draw as many kids into the program as I can.

What are you doing for summer reading? Feel free to share your plans in comments, or link to your own post!


  1. You know, no matter how many programs we offer, I always end up feeling like I wish we could do more, that this group or that group isn't being represented. I just have to keep reminding myself that I can only do as much as I can do!

    We get big numbers of K-2nd graders coming to programs, but the numbers really drop off when we get to the older ages.

  2. Abby -

    I am so the type of person who is never 100% satisfied with what I'm doing. It's a good thing, in the sense that I'm always on the lookout for new ideas, but it also means I can sometimes be really hard on myself!

    The public schools' last day here is next Monday, so we'll see what happens once their freedom kicks in.


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