The Summer Reading Program at the Wichita Falls Public Library in Wichita Falls, TX came to a close at the end of July. This summer, we were fortunate to be the recipients of the ALSC/BWI Summer Reading Program Grant, which enabled the library to provide quality programs to youth of all ages in our community. Our theme this summer was Get a Clue…at the Library, and many of our programs involved a mystery aspect. Some of our mystery-themed programs included:
- Murder Mystery Night: Our original plan was to have staff members perform a murder mystery play for our patrons. However, time and staffing constraints caused us to come up with a Plan B, which consisted of inviting the Actors Creating Together 4H Club to put on the murder mystery. Rather than putting on a play, we created crime scenes throughout the library, in the Youth Department, Teen Zone and Bookstore. Each costumed actor stood by their crime scene, and fifty participants walked through each scene, analyzed the evidence and interrogated the characters. This was a family program for all ages that was held in the evening and had a very positive response from patrons.
- Spy Camp: For our younger patrons, children ages 4 to 9, we held a spy camp. Over 100 patrons participated in this event, which was an hour long program that was comprised of five different stations:
- Mystery Drink Station: We had two different kinds of soda as our mystery drinks. Children got a sample of each and had to try to guess which was which.
- Laser Field Station: We set up a pretend laser field by using red yarn and crepe paper. Children had to navigate through the field without touching the lasers. This one was a big hit!
- Diffuse the Bomb Station: We played a game of hot potato by using a pretend bomb made out of a Styrofoam ball that had been painted black and a white pipe cleaner and flame-colored tissue paper for the fuse.
- Decoding Station: Young children played a game of ISPY and older children solved a code that led them to their prizes.
- Disguise Station: Children were able to pick up their take-home craft at this station. All good spies need a disguise, so we packed gallon-sized bags with craft supplies to make a paper plate mask.
- Tween/Teen DNA and Fingerprinting Workshop: Tweens and teens ages 10 to 18 were invited to participate in the DNA and Fingerprinting Workshop. Four members of the Wichita Falls Police Department came into the library to teach the teens and tweens about detective work, such as how to dust for fingerprints. Afterwards, the thirty participants put their newfound skills to the test by analyzing crime scenes that the police officers had set up in the library. They were also invited to tour the police department’s crime scene van. This program was particularly popular with the tweens. It was registration only and had a decent sized waiting list by the day of the program.
In addition to our mystery-themed programs, we also offered weekly crafts, gaming days, various performers, and, of course, storytime. This year, during our storytimes, we had sign language interpreters come in to translate during the stories so that the hearing impaired children of our community could participate. Having sign language interpreters present sparked an interest in many children to learn American Sign Language.
Overall, our Summer Reading program was a great success! Program attendance skyrocketed (we had over 1,000 more patrons at our programs this year compared to last year), and everyone — both staff and patrons — really enjoyed the mystery theme.
Our guest blogger today is Erin Warzala. Erin is the Children’s Librarian at the Wichita Falls Public Library in Wichita Falls, TX. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.