Category Archives: Summer Reading Programs

Summer Reading Wrap up

Wow, what a summer! It has gone by so fast, probably because for the public library it seems summer=summer reading programs. Our program runs from when school gets out until the last week in July, which is two months or less. But we seem to cram a lot of programing in those weeks and a lot of activities.

Participation in our summer reading programs is measured by number of people who signed up (just under 2500 total, 1945 children 11 and under and 540 teens 11 and up) number of raffle tickets turned in each week, and attendance at programs. Each week during the program, children who read 3 hours or more come in to get a prize and a raffle ticket. Kids can come in and get multiple weeks prizes, but only one raffle ticket per week.

Across the board our numbers were up, though most increases were seen in sign ups and in raffle tickets. Because of the way the raffle tickets work, it is hard to determine how many of the kids who signed up carried through with participation. Each week around 500-800 raffle tickets came in, but many families came in every other or every three weeks to pick up multiple week’s prizes, which means that of the 2000 kids who signed up we might have 200 or so who come in every week and 300 who come in every other week. It is hard to tell how many of the people who sign up actually follow through with participation.

Attendance at programs ranged from about 85 to 300+, which is about capacity for the sorts of programs we offer. As usual, our numbers were high for the initial two programs, low for the first two in July (one the Wednesday after Independence day, the other the Wednesday before a local holiday) and huge for our final party.

In 2010 our branch signed up around 1600 kids and teens, this year we signed up nearly 2500, about a 64% increase, with almost 1000 more participants. We have an unofficial competition with the other branches, and in 2010 we lost by 7 sign-ups, but this year our numbers were out of the park.

What worked well:

  • Promotion: e-mailing teachers, visiting schools, having classes visit the library–we went from two visits in 2010 to around 10-15 in 2011.
  • Display of prizes: new layout of our circulation area allowed us to set up a table with prizes that both encouraged children, promoted the program, and reminded parents and kids to get their prizes.
  • Sign-up in front of Auditorium: We had a rush of people in the first two weeks to sign up, which would have overwhelmed the circ desk, so we set up a desk for sign ups, which also helped with promotion.
  • Staff buy-in: ALL of the public service staff knows about all the programs and consistently reminded patrons about them.

What could be improved:

  • Flexibility of prize redemption: participants must have their packet to get weekly prize, even if they did their reading and were in the library. I would like to find some way to make it easier to participate–maybe just a card to stamp. The program should be about reading and coming to the library, and not about remembering a packet.
  • Flexibility of program scheduling: all of our programs were on Wednesdays and all were at the same time every other week. We don’t have the staff to do more programs, but we could at least make it possible for people to find programs they can attend, anyone with swim lessons at that time were completely excluded.
  • Flexibility of prizes: actually too many choices, too much flexibility. We are busy during the summer, and all prizes are distributed at the circulation desk while people are checking out–it is not a good time/place to have 50 different ducks to pick through.

Any thoughts on what worked well for you? What you’d do differently?


Taste Eurasia: Teen Summer Reading Program 2

When I heard our theme for the teen Summer Reading Club would be about traveling the world, I knew I wanted to feature a program about foods of the world. Teens love programs where we have real food and not just snacks, and last year we had a huge turn out for our healthy snack program. So this summer we are doing another cooking/food program. I was going to do the whole world, but was required to narrow it down to one area by the main children’s department. Eurasia is both Europe and Asia, so a lot of food options. It took a while to think of foods that would work–where we would have enough time to show the teens how to make it as well as be able to make enough ahead of time so that teens can have samples. I’m hoping the recipes I selected will work for the teens, and that we have a good turn out, but not so much that we run out of food!

Our menu is composed of four recipes from different parts of the world. We’ll be tasting two European dishes and two Asian dishes, two savory and two sweet. Besides making and eating the food, teens will also get the recipes and be encouraged to try these at home.

The first recipe is a spicy carrot salad, typical of Russian summer salads it is sort of a coleslaw type salad. I plan on grating the carrots the day before and mixing the dressing into the salad that morning. We’ll make up a batch at the program, but it really needs to sit so the flavors can set for about 4 hours. I have a fellow staff member who also has a food handler’s permit so he can dish this out, and I bought portion cups from Costco to serve this in. This is VERY easy to make.

Next we’ll be making our second savory dish, Onigiri. This rice balls are a little daunting to make for a group like this, I made a bunch for myself and found it to be very labor intensive and they don’t keep well. But I really wanted to include this as a very typical dish. So I’m going to get two rice cookers and prepare rice and have the teens help make them. Using the portion cups, a little plastic wrap, and spritz bottles, teens will shape their own onigiri. It is pretty easy to make, cut out a piece of plastic wrap, fit into the bottom of the cup, spritz with water, shake off excess, shake a little salt on, shake off excess. Then put a scoop of rice in the bottom, stick in a little filling (we have chopped olives, pickles, or a little tuna salad) and put more rice in. Then twist the top of the plastic closed, getting out all the air, squeeze the ball into shape. Add a little nori to wrap, and eat!

Staying in Asia, we’ll have our first dessert. Mango Kulfi is a traditional frozen treat from India. I found an easier recipe, and will make a TON in ice cube trays, so each teen can have some. We’ll mix up a batch at the event, even though it wont freeze in time to eat, just so we can learn how to make it.

Our final dish is crepes. I’ve got a hot plate, a crepe pan, and a good recipe for batter. Add nutella and bananas and you could be eating from a vendor in Paris! I’m going to do this last so teens can sample the other things we’ve made while I make enough crepes for the participants, though we plan on dividing them so folks can try a bit.

You are here: Self

Last week was our first teen Summer Reading Program. Teen programming always makes me nervous, because it is more unpredictable. I never have a good idea how many people will come, if what we planned will appeal to a wide range of people. During the school year, we get very low attendance at teen programs, but during the summer more kids show up. But how many?

Our first program focused on discovering self before we go out into the world to explore. I suppose it is a good place to start the program, but not our most popular one, which would have been nice to start on a high point.

We did some book talks, which I posted earlier. All of the books we talked up got checked out, which is always a good sign!

Our main activity was Yoga, and we were SO lucky to have one of our regulars, who has a teenaged daughter, teach the class. She teaches yoga locally, and she did the short program for us for FREE. It was AMAZING. She had a great connection with the kids, and the room was full of 35-40 teens, both boys and girls, relaxing and putting themselves into the exercise.

After that we did some Origami, and Zentangles. We had a number of boys who came just for these last two activities. It was a lot of fun and we had about 45 teens.

Summer Reading Incentives

Today we had one of my favorite Youth Services Trainings, the “Summer Reading is Almost here Bonanza” as I like to think of it. In reality, it is just a chance to make sure we are all on the same page as far as how the program will work, and to distribute the incentives. The teen program rules are the only ones that really change, but still there is always confusion and things to clarify.

For our Summer Reading Program (not club, though I fall back on SRC sometimes), children get a little prize each week when they do 3 hours or more of reading that week. They also get the chance to enter a raffle that week.

The tricky part is this: children can get prizes for previous weeks they’ve read if they didn’t make it into the branch that week, but only one raffle ticket, BUT they determine how many prizes/participants based on number of raffle tickets each week. So we have a family of 6 go out of town and get busy and miss 3-4 weeks of prizes, they come and get 18-24 prizes, and the main library counts 6 participants. While they are right, we get a lectures about giving out too many prizes, wasting prizes, and this year even stealing prizes. Also, we run out of prizes.

This year they bought more prizes, and I spent almost 4 hours trying to organize them. Since the children’s program is aimed for kids 3-11 years they try to get a variety of prize options. The downside is that handing out prizes becomes complicated and time consuming. Ponder this schedule:

Week One:
Choice of one of FOUR Safari coloring books or One of FOUR Activity pads AND one of FIVE Neon compass cords

Week Two:
Choice of one of SIX Jumbo skateboard or One of FIVE Neon hair braids AND one of a DOZEN completely different Backpack pulls (ranging from flashlights, purses, foam sports balls, bobble heads)

Week Three:
One of ten Gliders + One of maybe 50 different Rubber Ducks

Week Four:
One of TEN Puzzle games AND 3 puffy stickers from a huge assortment AND a Ring pop

Week Five:
One pretty cool Globe sharpener AND Sticky (I still have hundreds left from a summer at least three years ago, I can not give these away, plus people think they are food)

Week Six:
A choice of two pencil grips out of three different kinds (skateboarder, aliens, and jungle animals), each with five or six shapes.

Week Seven:
Wikki Stix

We also have a selection of six or seven choices for kids under 3 years old, inflatable mini beach balls, mini stuffed animals, starfish, animal squeakers, floating boats and planes.

There are some great prizes here, and I think kids will like them. But there are WAY too many choices and options, even non-picky kids will struggle to make a choice. My boss has suggested that I sort the prizes down to remove the options and just hand out one at a time. She has even offered me community service labor to go through all the prizes again and sort so that there isn’t so many options.

Teen Summer Reading Program Promotion Booktalk

Most of my outreach is for elementary students, mostly because it is easier to get into classes there, but since the sixth graders are just weeks away from graduating, they are practically middle-schoolers. So I’ll be promoting the Teen (12 and up) Summer Reading Club to them, though I’ll be mentioning that if they want they can also sign up and participate for the kids. Most kids don’t want the prizes for the little kids, but will sometimes attend if the program sounds interesting. The theme for teens is You are Here.

I’m squeezing the entire 6th grade from the local school in after an epic day of division meeting to explain the Summer Reading Program, opening the branch, and Kindergarten class visits, and all of this before 3 p.m.. I have about an hour to give an short tour and promote our programs. The hardest part will be what to have the kids do while I’m giving the tour. I’m thinking geography trivia they can try to answer while we quickly give a tour, and then go over the answers when I get back. I found a good quiz here

So after introductions and a discussion of library cards and the library, I’ll divide the group in half and do a tour for one half while the others answer trivia questions. After all the kids do the tour and the quiz/game we’ll go over the answers (with prizes/candy for winners), and ask the kids if they’d like to see the world?

I’m going to do some book talks:
Peak Can you imagine being the youngest kid to climb the tallest mountain on earth? Well, in Peak by Roland Smith one boy leaves his home in New York City, where there are only skyscrapers to climb, and travels all the way around the world to tackle that exact challenge. Adults die trying to climb this mountain every year, it requires a huge amount of endurance, skill, and luck. Do you think you’d want to risk your life to say you are the youngest person to conquer the mountain? See what Peak Marcello does, and if he makes it to the top, by reading Peak.

If you aren’t ready to take on Everest, we have another challenge here at the library for you. This summer you can get your boarding pass and embark on a trip of a lifetime here at the library. Sign up for our Teen Summer Reading program, complete at least six adventures and get a really awesome prize. This year we have a cool metal water bottle, a nice bag, and a book. You can get all your stamps by attending programs at this location or at one of our branches and reading books of your choice and turning in book reviews.

Each activity not only gets you closer to completing your quest and getting the prize (which will be handed out at the end of the summer program), but it also allows you to enter into a weekly raffle. Winners of weekly raffles will get their choice of books, as well as other awesome prizes.

This summer we’re going to learn about different places around the world, what they’d be like to visit, and what life is like for kids who live there. How many of you have eaten food from a different culture or country? Ever wonder if it is really like what people who live in other parts of the world eat? What the World Eats In What the World Eats you can find that out–how people get their food, what they eat, and how much. Each spread shows one family of at least four and the food they eat during one week. I’ll show some of the families profiled and give details.

Next I’ll tell them about our programs, one of which offers kids the chance to try some foods eaten in other parts of the world. Carrot salad, dal, maybe even sushi. Another program will help kids relax after the end of school, with yoga, origami, zentangles. We’ll be learning some dances from Polynesia and eating pineapple. And going on a trip around the world to track after a master criminal, if you are ready to be a world traveler by then. We’ll hand out the final prizes after we track the thief down!

If we have more time I’ll book talk a couple more books, A Step from Heaven A Step from Heaven, by An Na, and Younguncle Comes to Town Younguncle Comes to Town, by Vandana Singh

So You Want to be an Explorer?

So You Want to Be an Explorer? This summer I’m hoping to encourage all of the kids and teens in my community to explore the world through programs and books. When I first heard that we were doing the national theme One World, Many Stories, I went searching for titles that could give me ideas for programs and to share with kids. Judith St. George and David Small’s So You Want to be an Explorer? seems to capture the spirit of heading off into the unknown.

On one level it is really just a collective biography of various adventurers, from familiar figures such as Christopher Columbus to more obscure female explorers like Mary Kingsley. But it is also, as the name suggests, a guidebook of the characteristics needed to head out to see the world. It is successful because it doesn’t try too hard to tell kids every possible detail about all the figures covered, but rather inspires kids to explore the world and even to look into these historical figures to learn more! The illustrations are lovely water colors that don’t focus too much on accurately portraying the figures discussed, rather they are more like caricatures. This is the Caldecott Award winning team of So You Want to be President?, which is supposed to be updated and re-released, I believe.

For this summer, I’m going to include it in our display, and maybe book talk it during our second week program. I’d recommend this book to any other libraries doing the national theme, and for those kids, teachers, and librarians who long to explore the world and want to know how to get started!

Summer Reading Program Plans

Summer is usually the busiest season for the public library, a fact that surprises no Youth Services librarian. This is my sixth Summer Reading season at a public library, though only my second in charge of the programing for the entire branch. Programming and planning these events are one of my favorite parts of my job, though I will freely admit that the summer is draining, and short staffing makes it difficult to find any down time.

Since I work in a branch that is part of a county library system, the theme is decided centrally, both the overall program theme and the bi-weekly programs. They even schedule programmers and send lesson plans, like with storytime. Around this time of year, I pull up the plans and start working out how we’ll take the plans and bring them to life. It starts with deciding the focus and brainstorming.

The overall theme is One World, Many Stories, and here are the weekly themes they have selected for the Children’s SRP, and what I have so far as for execution of the theme. Any ideas would be enthusiastically welcomed. Of course I’ll post further details of each program when we actually carry them out.

  • Week One: The Stories we Tell: Featuring a storyteller arranged by the youth services department, and crafts that might include making flannel boards and pieces to tell stories at home.
  • Week Two: Away We Go: Featuring geography games, map crafts, and some suitcase relays.  This is a work in progress.
  • Week Three: How We Live: Featuring my mother, who has been to almost 100 countries talking about markets, market places, and how food is prepared around the world. With pictures of her travels to all 7 continents. I’m still thinking of a craft to go with this, something food related, and we’re going to have an assortment of dried fruit for snack.
  • Week Four: Global Citizens: The availability of fresh drinking water is of great importance to kids all over the world, we’ll read some folk tales about water, learn about how some kids spend all day walking to get water, and about the importance of conserving water and accessing it. We’ll have water relay games, where kids have the chance to find out how hard it is to carry water, and work to move water over distances. I’m not sure what kind of craft to do, or if we need to do one.
  • Final Party: Guest Performer/Activity: I’m not firm on this one, but I think for the final party I’m going to try and book a performer to do an African Drum circle outside on the lawn. We’ll also have some crafts, and the handing out of the final prize for the summer reading program.

More New Job Fun

This week I started my new job, and I LOVE it! However, it has left me with less time and energy to dedicate to this blog. Partially that is because I am also finishing my class at the same time. Today is my evening on, so I don’t have to go in to the library for a while this morning. So I thought I’d post about the exciting preparations for the Summer Reading Club that we are busy putting together!

Decorations are going up–with the theme being GAME ON! READ! There are lots of cool games that can be featured, so it is a matter of selecting which ones to feature. Since neither I nor the Librarian I’m assisting with the decor are really into sports, we are focusing on some other outdoors games. We have hula hoops, jump ropes, hop scotch, and a few sports related items. I’m working on signs to advertise our programs each day–there is so much going on that it is important to make sure everyone can see what is scheduled for that day.

We’ve divided the supervision of programs between the four of us Youth Services staff–and I am SO excited about the activities I will get to observe and host. I’ll be working on science themed Tuesdays as well as non-family story time Wednesdays, as well as a variety of other activities. For my first day of work, we went on class visits and I was sharing all of the exciting visitors and programs we will be having and encouraging them to come see them. The kids LOVED hearing about the Turtle Lady, with her buckets of turtles, and the Reptile guy with his ALLIGATOR!! I have to say that I am looking forward to both of these as well, though I can only imagine the potential mess and chaos.

I’m also still working on my passive programing ideas–lots of fun crosswords and word searches!

Reading Corner Themes!

This summer I will be reading Mon-Thursday for an hour to any kids in the library around 1pm. It promises to be enormously entertaining, and hopefully will give me the opportunity to read more picture books. Plus, picture books are fun and the smaller groups will allow more interaction.

To keep what books I’ve read straight, I plan on compiling lists of books for each day. Though I’m scheduled to read for an hour, most likely I will not be reading the whole time, so my goal is 10 books on each topic, for different age levels. A couple for toddlers, a couple for pre-schoolars, some for k-2 grades, and at least one for older kids.

Some of the themes I have lists for already–others I will be compiling as I go along based on what we have at the branch. I don’t want to track down too many books at other branches, so hopefully I’ll be able to find enough for each week.

Here are some of the topics I’ve brainstormed, any suggestions would be great–as well as recommendations of good books on these topics!
-Camping -Farm -Family
-Sports -Clothing -Fruit and Veggies
-Folktales -Colors -Ponds
-Birthday -Creativity -Transportation
-Bedtime -Beach -Alphabet
-Dinosaurs -Jungle -Friends
-Dogs -Emotions -America
-Cats -Ocean -School
-Zoo -Weather -Diversity/multi-cultural
-Bugs -Picnic -Vacation

Some of these I have a lot for, but lots of these I don’t have more then one or two–so I could use suggestions for any read-alouds!

Passive Programing Ideas

Since the system I work for is enormous, with over 20 branches, the programs that are presented are shared with all locations and are developed centrally. This is a great time and money saver, since it allows smaller branches to experience more programing then their time and budgets would normally allow. The Youth Services team proposed programs and each location selected a list of them and added them to the schedule of activities. Since I am stepping into the position working on the summer reading club, I am just glad that such excellent programs were selected for my new location.

Though, I’m super excited about the activities and programs we have planned (I can’t believe Haddix is coming, I’ve never been to an author visit!!), I do want to add some things of my own to the SRC. The one area that I think can carry between the two aspects of this job is some passive programing. I can bring these out if there are kids sitting around looking for something to do, before a program, or on weekends when we don’t have any programs. These are also something that volunteens can assist in creating and processing.

Aimed at younger children, I’d like to have a variety of soft easy puzzles–using the die cut I’ve already made some using old flannel backgrounds. Building on the theme of Game On, I’d like to have lacing of some sports related images–primarily balls for different sports. I’ll also have some simple word searches and other word puzzles.

For older kids, I’ll have number, word games, logic games, and mazes. In order to encourage kids to participate and to enjoy it, I will have a contest–giving out stickers for each puzzle completed, with a special foam book mark for those who complete 10 over the course of the summer.

Groups of school age kids and teens might also enjoy some mad-libs, which can also be brought out for groups to enjoy when things get slow. There are also some drawing books that might provide some entertainment–particularly those sports and gaming related ones.

I’ll definitely be posting more as these ideas develop.