Marketing Your Program
I am a big believer that you need to market your program inside of your library. Just about everybody who walks in your front door is a target as almost all of them are already checking out books. Unfortunately, many people don't understand that summer reading is a program that we run-they think that it is just reading in the summer. It is up to us to explain the program and get them to participate.
I believe in the rule of 7-you need to see something 7 times for it to stick in your brain. If you look around my department, you will see summer reading signs everywhere.
Our standee from Upstart has been by the reference desk in past years. Unfortunately, not everybody comes up to the desk. Think of when you go shopping. Do you stop by the customer service desk every time you go? I moved the standee so you can now see it right when you get off the elevator on our floor. By adding the words "join" and "June 2-August 9" to the sign it helps to reinforce that this is a program that you want to do.
This display is right next to the reference desk. While we also have forms behind the desk, this is a self-service station. On this display we have both the kids and teen forms, the ALSC grade level booklists, our summer scavenger hunt form, a sign describing the two programs, and sign with our weekly top 10 schools by summer reading participation. On the next side of this display, we have individual grade level booklists.
These stars appear throughout the department. They are on every OPAC, our reference desk computers, the Activity Room doors, and inside the Story Time Room.
The Actual Program
Our kids program is designed with 60 spaces on our gameboard. Language matters-gameboard sounds much more fun than reading log. Kids under 5 count every book equals 1 space. Kids over 5 count ever 15 minutes reading as one space. We aren't super picky if somebody wants to do the program one way or another. The big point is that they are reading. Every time they complete 20 spaces, they come in for a prize.
Our first prize is a choice from the treasure box. This year we have mustache pens, stampers, magnifying glasses, bouncing balls, and clip-on critters in the treasure chest. Kids also get a sticker (see below) and write their name on a die cut to add to our window (see below).
In addition to being a cool display, this generates interest in the program. We have kids asking us how they can put their name on the window. This gives us the opportunity to explain the program.
We make these stickers in-house using Avery circle labels. While stickers are always a cool prize, many of our kids put them on right away and wear them out in public. It is free library advertising!
When kids come in for their second prize, they get to spin the prize wheel. Honestly, a prize wheel is awesome for generating interest in our program. Kids are always coming up and asking if they can spin the wheel. When we explain that it is a prize, they take the form.
Each number on the wheel corresponds to a different prize. We have rubberband bracelets, Smencils, animal finger puppets, a ball game, and color changing soccer and footballs. By having them numbered, this gives the staff member a chance to switch the prize if it wouldn't be appropriate for the child. After all, what 10 year old wants a finger puppet.
For their third prize, we pass out books. We visit our local Scholastic Warehouse sale every May and stock up on quality books for a great price. Kids also get a packet of stuff including their above and beyond gameboard and free coupons to fun places (roller skating and bowling).
Since you have to worry about prizes being safe for kids under 3, we have a special bucket for baby prizes. While some want the same prizes as their big brothers and sisters (which we let them if their parent okays it), they love being able to choose their own prizes too. Their bucket includes rubber duckies, bubbles, and plastic shovels. They also get to pick out a free book as their last prize.
That is our program for this year! We are always trying to change things up in terms of what our community wants and what would be the best use of our money. We already have some great ideas for next year, but our whole team will sit down in September to evaluate the program.
Just for fun, this is the "before" picture for summer reading.