Tag Archives: library program

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?


Celebrations Around the World

A second grade teacher at a nearby school asked if she could bring her students and those of another teacher to learn about Cinco de Mayo. Not my favorite holiday, but a good opening to a discussion of how things are around the world. I talked about two holidays that are both celebrated May 5th on different sides of the planet: Cinco de Mayo in North America and Children’s day in Asia, with an eye to promoting our summer reading club on One World, Many Stories.

Because life is like this sometimes, the group showed up at 1 p.m. for a 1:30 presentation, and I walked in the door from running errands with half of my lunch left to hear that the 50 second graders were already here. So we dove right into the presentation!

Cactus Soup First up I’ll read Cactus Soup, which is a variant of the traditional tale “stone soup” set in Mexico during one of their revolutions. I’ll tell them there are two important things to learn from the book. The first is about Mexican culture and history. And the second is about the story itself.

The history that leads up to the various Mexican revolutions int he 19th century is very messy and complicated. I’m going to do a very short presentation on the history of this holiday. I have a good short book that explains it simply. Cinco De Mayo (The Library of Holidays) I want to put some pictures up so the kids can see what these celebrations are like. I also want to point out that there are all kinds of celebrations around the world that are different from ours. I’ll share the fact that the 5th of May is also a holiday in Japan. That it is the celebration of Kodomono-hi.

From this discussion of the holiday, I want to move to folk tales in general and worldwide, so I can promote the Summer Reading Program here. I’ll ask the kids if they can remember the story we read, and explain the outline. Then I’ll show some other variations–stone soup, button soup, and different books. The fact that folktales have different variations and can be told in different ways around the world is one of our Summer Reading Program weekly themes, so it makes a nice segue into discussions of the Summer Reading Program. Stone Soup Button Soup (Bank Street Level 2*)

Sign-ups start May 31st, right after Memorial day. When you sign up you get a program guide with a reading log where you record how much you read each week. When you’ve read or been read to for 3 hours or more in a week, you can come into the library for a prize. Also on the reading log is a calendar of our awesome events. All our Children’s Summer Reading Program events will be at 10:30 every other Wednesday, starting on June 6th. We will be having a professional story teller, a world traveler, musical guests, and lots of games, crafts, and snacks! At our final party, children can get a prize bag, with a book in it!

After discussing the particulars of our Summer Reading Program, I’ll close with a retelling of a Mexican folktale, Borreguita and the Coyote, based on Verna Aardema’s account. Borreguita and the Coyote (Reading Rainbow Books)

National Children’s Book Week: Three Little Pigs Party

This year we are celebrating National Children’s Book Week with an evening party focused on one of our favorite fables: The Three Little Pigs. Porcine fans everywhere will rejoice as we share stories, crafts, and a nifty contest.

For starters, I will invite four kids from the audience to come up on the stand and help me act out the story that most of the kids are familiar with, using masks and props.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs Then I’ll read the True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka, and ask the kids what really happened. I may mention some of the other variations we have in the library, and encourage them to investigate all the different variations.

After that, I’ll introduce our three crafts and the connected activity:

  • Pig or Big Bad Wolf Mask
  • Toilet Paper Tube Pigs and Wolves from DLTK
  • Build a house using a template printed on card stock, and various supplies to make it more sturdy.

After the houses are built, and have some time to dry. We’ll have the big, bad wolf, AKA me, come and see which I can blow down. Those whose houses withstand my mighty force will get a prize. Additional prizes will be given out to the most creative and strongest pig palaces.

Poetry Day

April is national poetry month and I decided to highlight poetry for the second graders who regularly come to visit. We read different types of poems, from silly to serious, talked about some great poets, and wrote some verse together. I found a Shel Silverstein activity kit in my office, so I incorporated some of those ideas.

I started by reading Casey at the Bat, Ernest L Thayer, ills C.E. Payne. Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888
For these types of events, I like to start by getting the kids to talk and finding out what they already know. So I asked them a series of questions, or enough questions to open up the kids. So what do you think we are going to talk about? Baseball? History? No Poetry! What can you tell me about poetry? Turns out they knew quite a bit about poetry!

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
From that I read them some samples of different types of poetry, first: “The Ballad of the Wandering Eft,” from Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, Joyce Sidman. After which we talked about what you could learn from that poem.

Falling Up “Hypnotized” from Falling Up, Shel Silverstein. A good example of a silly poem (and one we used later on for poetry mad libs. The kids pretended they were hypnotized when I read it to them)

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways “Eye to Eye” from African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways, Avis Harley. Both informational, and a fun introduction to a new poetry form. I read another poem to give the kids an idea of how it works, they understood the concept when we actually wrote the poem.

The last poem transitioned us into our first activity: writing an Acrostic Poem for Library.

Here is our completed poem:
L Lots of fun,
I It’s a place to check out books;
B Books have lots of words, and are
R Roaring Good,
A Awesome!
R Read to succeed,
Y Yummy Books!

After we wrote our first poem, I read some more poetry:

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse “Longing for Beauty” from Mirror Mirror, Marilyn Singer. Reversable verse is a new kind of poetry, and I ended up reading another poem to fully convey how the poetry worked. I think the teachers were more interested in how it worked then the students.

Love That Dog I ended with book talking Love That Dog, Sharon Creech. A novel in verse about verse; what could be better? Well it is written so that kids this age could understand it.

We finished up with Poetry MadLibs, from the Shel Silverstein activity kit:
How would you like to get hypnotized? (Verb)__________ deep, deep into my (plural noun) _____________. Now you’re getting (adjective)___________, falling deep, deep, deep—asleep, And I have you in my power. (Verb)_______ the (noun)__________ for half an hour. Shine my shoes, (verb)________ my hair, Wash out all my (noun)____________. Do my homework, scratch my (noun)_______, Cook me up a great (adjective)___________ stack of (plural noun)_____________, and go wash my (noun) _________ . Get some (plural noun) _________ and fix the gate. Now wake up and (verb)________ your eyes. Wasn’t it (adjective)__________ to be hypnotized?

Here is our completed Mad Lib
How would you like to get hypnotized? Run deep, deep into my dogs. Now you’re getting fat, falling deep, deep, deep—asleep, And I have you in my power. Jog the knife for half an hour. Shine my shoes, play video games in my hair, Wash out all my McDonalds. Do my homework, scratch my Isabella, Cook me up a great big stack of libraries, and go wash my astronauts. Get some women and fix the gate. Now wake up and cartwheel your eyes. Wasn’t it brown to be hypnotized?

Circuses and Zoos

One of the downsides to having storytime kits is that sometimes a theme is selected that just doesn’t work. Most of the time it is just that it doesn’t work equally well for toddlers and prescholars, but a occasionally there is a theme that should just be retired never to surface again. Such is my opinion of having Circus as a theme. It didn’t help that I’ve had a cold this week, which made it hard to be as excited as usual. In order to make this work, I did circuses and zoos, or places you can go to see animals and have fun. Most of the finger plays were circus related and we talked about circuses, but I did read two books on zoos and two on circuses (I tried two different ones, changed for the second storytime).


Here are some zoo and circus stories, some of which I used for my circus/zoo storytime:

Circus Family Dog Circus Family Dog, by Andrew Clements, This was an ok story, but the ending falls flat. The kids didn’t seem to understand what was going on.

Olivia Saves the Circus Olivia Saves the Circus, by Ian Falconer, a better book, but not great for preschool storytime.

Circus Shapes (MathStart 1) Circus Shapes, by Stuart J Murphy. A nice toddler tale.

Where's Pup? Where’s Pup? Dayle Dodds, another toddler tale, lots of fun rhyme.

My Heart Is Like a Zoo My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall. My heart could also be like a circus, lots of animals and we did different noises and made faces.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Phillip Stead. I LOVE this book, also I was sickish when I read it, so it made sense. Plus really this is a nice quiet book that has lots of lovey details.

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell, bring the zoo to you!

Animal Strike at the Zoo. It's True! Animal Strike at the Zoo, it’s True! by Karma Wilson, this has such a fun rhyme. I wish I’d had it for the storytime, because it does mention a circus.

Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo Never, Ever, Shout in a Zoo, Karma Wilson, another rhyming zoo story.

From Head to Toe From Head to Toe, Eric Carle I used this one recently, it is all kinds of animals and the actions they make and at the end there is a zookeeper.

Baby Tamer Baby Tamer, Marc Teague. I used this one from the Babysitter’s kit (another theme that should be retired), but it features a three ring circus.

So a whole circus of stories! We talked about animals you might see in the circus, what else you might see at the circus, and what you might eat. I found some awesome fingerplays in an old kit from my old job, both were circus/zoo related.

5 popcorns popping in a pan, (dance your fingers on your other hand)
one got hot and he went “BAM!” (clap hands)

4 popcorns popping in a pan…

3 popcorns popping in a pan…

2 popcorns popping in a pan…

1 popcorn popping in a pan…

No popcorns popping in the pan,
but the pan got hot and it went “BAM!”

For the first group, we did a circus parade and pretended to be different animals and creatures in the circus, but by the time I got to the second group I was wiped out! So we did this other finger play, which was also counting down, but still fun:

5 little monkeys swinging on a trapeze,
one fell off and skinned his knees (slap hands on your knees)
mommy called the doctor and the doctor said,
“no more monkeys on the trapeze!”

Just like 5 little monkeys on the bed it counts down until all the monkeys have fallen.

We had a really fun lion mask the kids made at the end, and all the kids went around ROARing.