My fellow librarians, we (finally) ditched the cheap plastic Summer Reading Club prizes this year and we are NEVER GOING BACK!!!
Everyone’s serving a different community and you have to decide for yourself what is right for your library and your patrons. But make sure you’re thinking about the program that you’re offering and you know why you’re running it the way you’re running it.
Summer Reading Club is HARD to plan and can get overwhelming. It’s easy to take what you’ve done in previous years, tweak, and repeat. But you need to take a step back and take stock every now and then.
Is your Summer Reading Club creating lifelong readers by encouraging intrinsic motivation for reading (i.e. reading for the love and satisfaction of reading)? Or are kids reading just enough to earn that toy/coupon/entry slip and then stopping?
Many libraries have come up with different ways to address this issue, ditch cheap prizes, and create a program that staff and patrons feel great about.
Check out the following posts for some ideas:
Library Bonanza: Summer LIBRARY Club
This librarian speaks about how her library got rid of reading requirements in favor of a Summer Library Club, encouraging families to visit the library frequently over the summer.
Tiny Tips for Library Fun: Summer Prizes – Goodbye!
Marge Loch-Waters shares the ways her library rewarded readers with experiential activities, like helping to build a community robot, instead of plastic toys this year.
Hafuboti: Summer Reading Booklets
Rebecca ditched cheap prizes in favor of a booklet with creative activities and coupons kids can earn throughout the summer.
Abby the Librarian: Those Summer Reading Club Prizes
Yes, I said that we ditched the cheap prizes and here I share information about the Science Activity Packs we offered instead.
What, No Tchotskes? Creating an Experience-Based Summer Program
In this program at the ALA Annual Conference, librarians from several different libraries shared their experiences with choosing experiential programs over incentive-based programs.
Having taken the plunge this year and offered activity-based prizes and free books instead of our normal toys and grand prize drawings, I can tell you that it went over better than I thought it would. I had prepped my staff extensively on what to tell patrons who complained about the prizes, but I didn’t hear one complaint all summer. This was especially shocking and delightful because I have had at least one complaint every year when we were offering much more elaborate prizes.
Has anyone else gone “prizeless”? How did it work and what do you do for your Summer Reading Club?
— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN