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:
Choice of one of FOUR Safari coloring books or One of FOUR Activity pads AND one of FIVE Neon compass cords
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)
One of ten Gliders + One of maybe 50 different Rubber Ducks
One of TEN Puzzle games AND 3 puffy stickers from a huge assortment AND a Ring pop
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)
A choice of two pencil grips out of three different kinds (skateboarder, aliens, and jungle animals), each with five or six shapes.
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.