Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Reading Program Revamped-So Far So Good!

Our Fizz Boom Read Bulletin Board

Sigh....oh Summer Reading Program. I love you and yet you tire me out year after year. This year I made a goal to go easy on myself and try to read picture books this summer. And while I've read some picture books, I still have sadly not been reading much at all! My grand total for books read (or listened to) in June was four, which is incredibly low for me. The Summer Reading Program is super busy/taking care of Baby GreenBean/working a lot is making me tired and cutting into my reading (and blogging) time! But there are some good things about SRP this year.

This year we revamped the format of our Summer Reading Program and it's actually made things easier on the staff side which has been great. In past years the program was 3 levels, 12 hours of reading and 12 activities. This year we changed it to 2 levels, 10 hours of reading and eight activities. The activities are things like, read a book on the five senses or put an ice cube outside, one in the house, and one in the freezer and see which one melts first or build a reading fort. Level 1 awards the kids a coupon card with all sorts of freebie and discounted deals (we've done this prize for several years now and it's a huge draw). Level 2 gets them a Fine Waiver and a free book. That's it-no more stickers or bookmarks trying to make up a middle level that wasn't that exciting. In the past, Level 2 was a pretty wimpy level and this year, combining the fine waiver and the book make a much more interesting and fun prize.

We also changed the teen program so that instead of weekly random prize drawings, every teen gets a book. Both the teen and kids prizes are the same-same levels, same amount of reading. The only difference is the teen program is online and there's no activities the teens have to do along with the reading.

We were worried (it seems librarians are always worried about changes!) about how these changes would go. But so far, it's been great. The teens are very happy to get a book and it's great that every teen gets a bigger prize. (Before it was just the teens that won a random drawing who won a book or bigger prize).

The teens get a chance to keep adding hours for a grand prize drawing of gift cards. And the kids get a chance to complete "Eager Readers" which they can complete more reading and activities and earn entries into grand prize drawings. This is a great way to keep the kids reading and making summer reading program last all summer, even for those who finish quickly.

Add in our Tiny Tots program that has 16 activities for babies under 18 months to complete and earn two board books and an entry into a Tiny Tots gift basket and we've got successful summer reading programs for all ages.

Streamlining our SRP this year has made it so much better on the staff side. It's so much easier to explain since every program follows the same basic format and prize structure. And our patrons haven't had any complaints about having a change in the amount of hours or taking out the random prize drawings for the teens. I haven't heard anyone say anything about missing a sticker or bookmark-maybe because we have bookmarks out at the desk for them to take if they want one.

I think the key to a non-stressful summer reading program is to make sure it's simple. Simple to explain, simple to follow, and simple to complete. We have options to continue for those who read quickly but it's not so much reading to prevent those who pick up the program midway through to finish the entire game board. We're still super busy, as we are every summer, but I feel like the structure of our program makes so much more sense this year and we're all very happy about that!


  1. I love the idea of giving fine waivers as a prize! We did that for Winter Reading Club and it was really popular. How much of a waiver did you give them?

    1. I love the fine waivers as a prize too-they're a great way to give a fresh start. We've been very lucky that our director allows us to waive any overdue fines on their card. It's only good for overdue fines, not billed or lost items, but at least it brings the cost down even if they do have billed materials. We tried in the first year to only waive kids and teen items, but that got tricky since kids and teens do check out materials cataloged in adult. Now it's anything overdue on the card. It has to be on the child's card (even if the child doesn't owe fines and the parent does) and the card is in the kids name. If the child doesn't have a card, then the parent can use it. It's good only once and is good until Sept. 30 (same with the coupon cards) so even if you waited until the last day of SRP, you'd still have close to two months to use it.

  2. Sounds like a great reading program. I agree with you that keeping things simple is the key. Definitely less stress all around! I have never heard of the wave fine prize- but I am sure that is a big hit. :)

    Thanks for sharing and happy reading to you!


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