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?