Friday, May 30, 2014

Things I wish people knew about Summer Reading

Ok, first off, I knew blogging with a baby would be hard. But my goodness, it's tough! Especially when he stops napping well and the moment he goes to bed I want to go to bed too because I've exhausted myself at work. But luckily I've got my handy iPad to blog from whole I'm holding Baby GreenBean, so please excuse any typos!

We're almost a week into Summer Reading Program at my library. This is my eighth Summer Reading Program and it never fails that after a few days, I start to feel like a broken record saying the same things over and over again. I can give the Summer Reading spiel in my sleep-and have actually dreamt about it!

Yet no matter how many times I go through another Summer Reading Program, there are always things that surprise me that people don't know. Here's my wish list of what I wish people knew about Summer Reading.

-Listening to a book counts as reading. Yep, it might seem like a given to people who are avid readers or who work with kids, but every year I get the inevitable "but my child can't read yet" statement from parents. They're surprised that listening to a book, being read to, or even audiobooks count as reading. I've even said that maybe we should call it the Summer Reading and Listening Program,

-All ages can participate-including babies and toddlers. Along with the my kid can't read yet camp are the parents who will only pick up a reading game board for their older kids and ignore baby. They don't think the younger ones can participate-but of course they can! I always encourage them to include everyone and mention that even when reading to the older kids, if baby is in the room, that counts-baby is listening! (See above!) The last two years my library has started a program just for babies which I love and it helps encourage those with younger kids to participate. 

-Forget reading levels and read what you want! Every year I have parents or kids who are stuck on reading books at a certain level. And it's so frustrating! Not every book is catalogued in every leveling system, our library isn't organized by level, and so many times the kid is reading at a high level but a young age which makes it hard to find something of interest. Forget the reading levels-please!!! The best way to enhance and grow your child's reading skills and love of reading is to let them read what they want. Let them read for pleasure-that doesn't happen enough, or at all, during the school year, so let them have fun. I promise they will continue to grow as a reader and they will learn to love reading because they got to choose their own books.

-I'm glad you love the prizes, but that's not what it's all about. I'm glad people love our program and we are super lucky that every child gets a book, a fine waiver card, and a big coupon card with lots of great area deals (many for free). But just because you finished the game board doesn't mean you have to stop reading. And the prizes are great, but please be honest and don't cheat. It's not about getting prizes but getting to choose what you want to read and have fun reading. That's the main focus and what it's all about. 

-Just because a book is popular doesn't mean it's the best book for your child. Oh Summer Reading. What is it about this time of year that makes parents and grandparents only want the "popular books"? Seriously, if I had a new book every time someone asked where the popular books were, I'd have a very nice library! But here's the thing about Summer-the library gets so much more busy than during the school year. More books get checked out-including the popular ones. It doesn't matter if during the school year we have an entire shelf full of Magic Tree House, during the Summer they are all gone. And there's nothing more frustrating that an interaction with a patron who only wants what's "popular" and refuses to take anything else or try something new. My staff and I work hard all year long to create booklists and readalike lists and our job is to help you find something to read-and I do believe we're pretty awesome at it too! So trust us to help you instead of only relying on  best sellers and popular books-there's so much more in the library and we can help you find it. And if you really want that popular book, we'd be happy to put you on hold for it. 


Ok librarians, anything else you want to add? Or what about those who aren't librarians, what should librarians know about Summer Reading? 

13 comments:

  1. I love Summer Reading programs, we've been to a few where the activities were wonderful. I've been one of the parents who ask about audiobooks, mostly cause the school we were at didn't count them as reading hours for the weekly reading charts I had to fill out. But I hope my MG'er will pick out the books that they want to read from the library.

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    1. I hadn't thought about the fact that the schools don't allow audio, which is why people assume they can't do audio for summer reading. Which is so frustrating! I wish schools would allow audiobooks-that's how my brother read all of his required reading for school. It's a much needed form of reading for many kids.

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  2. I wish people would just relax - the only rule is to have fun! read anything you want! you don't have to sign up on any particular day! no program attendance necessary! I feel like I get hoarse reiterating this every year but I still get so many patrons who think we have all these rules. Where do they get them from? Sigh.

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    1. Oh me too! Just relax and have fun! They always seem so stressed about finishing. Our game board is listed in hours, at five hours per level (with two levels this year, changed from three levels of four hours in previous years, which is a two hour decrease!) but they always stress out and think there's no way they can read an hour at one time! I have to explain over and over that whenever they reach an hour total is okay-just read a little bit every day! And we don't require library cards, it's free, no program attendance-really no strings attached but just read for fun!

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    2. and then on top of the patrons constantly asking about rules, I have all the staff "well, what if they want to do ___, somebody wants to___ can they do that?" constantly, until I feel like wearing a t-shirt that says, in giant letters JUST SAY YES

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  3. Thank you for this lovely list! The only thing that I usually add is that kids need to know that reading is fun and worth making time for. I encourage parents to sign up for adult summer reading, so their kids can see them reading, too.

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    1. Yes! We've started doing an adult summer reading program the past few years and I encourage the adults to participate. They're always shocked when I tell them the books they read with their kids can count for them too!

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  4. I'm a parent, not a librarian. My pet peeve about my library's summer reading program is that they won't let you turn in for multiple levels on the same day. Our program has 4 six hour levels, and my 7th grader is an avid reader. She often blows through levels faster than I can get her to the library so she gets frustrated with this limitation.

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    1. I should add that we are dedicated library users and are grateful for the summer reading program. It was especially helpful when my kids were learning to read and needed motivation to practice!

      Also, audiobooks are the unsung heroes of the library in my opinion. If people only knew how quiet the kids are in the car when a good story is in play, they'd be flocking to that aisle in droves!

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    2. I have a lot of avid readers at my library and I was getting a lot of kids breezing through the whole program in the first week - now I have two programs, one they get to turn in a bookmark each week for a small prize and Super Readers Club where they read extra hours over the whole summer and turn the sheet in at the end for passes and other prizes. Most libraries try to spin out the reading because we're generally trying to get kids to read and visit the library all summer long, not just in one big clump at the beginning (-:) I remember that as a child though - I'd finish in the first week and then it was just....OVER! How disappointing! So I started Super Readers Club!

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    3. That's a great idea and would definitely add a second layer of summer reading fun. I will drop it in the suggestion box in our teen reading room!

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    4. We let kids turn in levels on multiple days, but we still have a lot of kids fly through the program (they have from mid-May to early August, so it's a long time!) A few years ago we added an "eager reader" component. It used to be once they were done, they were done and we found the kids wanted to keep reading and fill something out. So now they can fill out a drawing slip for each additional five hours of reading (our levels are by five hours) and get entered into a drawing at the end of the summer. It's nice to give the avid readers something else so they don't feel like they finished early and have nothing else.

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  5. Hey I have nominated you for the Liebster Award! For more info:
    http://bookwormblogger9.blogspot.com/2014/06/liebster-award.html

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