Consistency is Key

My library always has a huge turnout for our Summer Reading Program. My branch alone (one of ten in the system) has close to 5,000 kids and teens participate in our Summer Reading Program which means we are busy all summer long. For as long as I’ve worked at the library (eight years) we’ve always brought in hired performers once a week to help take the burden off of staff during a busy programming period. We also continue with our regular storytimes and offer many special programs done by staff.

This summer we decided to try something new. We offered consistent weekly programs for special age groups throughout the summer. We hosted “Monday Madness” for tweens-we defined tweens as grades 4-8. We also added a weekly STEM program called “Science Explorers” for grades K-5. The program was hosted at the same time, but the theme changed every week. Staff did everything from LEGOs and tea parties to the science of spiders, and building catapults.

What we discovered was something we had long suspected-our patrons loved having a consistent day and time set aside for certain age groups. Many parents mentioned how much they loved having a program day and time set aside just for the tweens who often feel left out in other programming. Since we limited registration to 25-30 participants for the Friday events the kids loved having a chance to explore all sorts of science topics in a smaller setting.

Offering weekly programs was a lot to take on in addition to our three days of storytimes a week, Thursday performers and additional programs like our dance party, digital storytimes, and evening storytimes. But it was worth it to add the additional programs to make sure we offered something for everyone all summer long.

We felt like we finally found a great programming formula that worked for our library during Summer Reading Program and we can’t wait to try it again next year.



  1. Meg

    Hi Sarah! Can you tell us a little more about the programming your library offered for the tweenaged set? That’s an area that we often miss, too.

    1. Sarah Bean Thompson

      Here is the lineup we did:

      Titanic Ocean Science
      LEGO Blocks Building
      Story Boarding with Photography
      Percy Jackson
      Chill Out Movie Day: Frozen
      Fingerprint Analysis
      English Tea Party
      Warrior Cats
      SciFi Movie Day: Treasure Planet

      While they happened every Monday, it was split between staff, so there wasn’t one person planning everything which was nice. The biggest draws were Warriors, Percy Jackson and Legos with the Warrior fans request a regular club at the library.

  2. Susan

    Would love to hear more about the tween programs, too.

    What we find in our library, however, is that ALL members of a family, no matter what the age, want to come to ANY program we do, even if we indicate it’s for a certain age range.

    1. Sarah Bean Thompson

      We’ve brainstormed hosting different programs at the same time for different age groups. We did this a couple of times this summer when we had a K-5 program happening the same time as a teen program. It worked well because families with multiple ages had something to attend.

  3. Sarah West

    Several years ago I started offering a preschool program and a school age program every Thursday afternoon in the summer. The school age program is either for 6 to 8 or 9 to 12 or sometimes 6 to 12 years. Then we put out board games for the other kids that don’t fit in that age. This has worked so well. Parents know that they can come and have something for all their kids.

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