This is the time of year when you can’t avoid the evidence-it’s graduation time. You either know someone who is graduating or someone you know is going to a graduation. A friend’s child barely made it across the finish line and there’s relief. Others are in the throes of meeting final requirements, getting signatures, and making arrangements for the big day and beyond.
We’ve been preparing for our first 1000 Books before Kindergarten graduation, which will take place August 12. There is no specific time requirement for completing the 1,000 books goal, so we are not quite sure how many will be in attendance for the first one. We have some clues based on the number of stars, each representing 100 books read, that have gone up on our board. It seems like children and their parents are either pacing themselves, turning in one log every few weeks or so, or they are speeding along toward the finish line at breakneck speed.
We’ve also noticed that child and parent teams spurred on by a teacher appear to have the most momentum. After all, if the teacher has made it a part of the daily routine–either reading with the class or checking in with parents regularly to receive their logs, which are then turned in by the teacher at the library, the goal will be met in a predictable manner.
We call it a Family Reading Adventure, and it is certainly being done that way by many, but again there is something about a teacher in the mix that ups the ante. We still need support systems. Even the parent and child that are supposedly going it alone check in at the library to return a log and receive an incentive. There is recognition from library staff, and even if the child has run off to play with one of the games computers, the parent is interacting with library staff, getting more logs, returning books or selecting new ones(although we do not mind if the same book is read over and over, 1000 times).
Back to graduation. We are going to have a speaker, someone recognized in the community. We are working on the letter that we will send, asking the honored guest to attend and share a few comments and congratulate the children and parents. The guest speaker will read a short book, which will most likely be the same book that each child receives as a gift from the library. We had an opportunity for children to also receive a certificate from a local politician, but we are holding off on that for right now until we can find the easiest way to get these en mass, without having to keep going back to the mayor or Board of Supervisors every time we need more with names filled in and new dates. The truth is, we probably will not be swamped with more than 10-15 children, but whatever we decide, we want it to become a routine that can be handled pretty easily by anyone, in case someone else has to take over the duties of preparing the graduation.
The first graduation will happen at our main library branch, but we have already decided that graduation ceremonies can happen at any of our regional branches when critical mass of 8 or more children has been reached. At the first graduation, we’ll have someone videotape it and upload it to our staff shared drive so that it can be referred back to in terms of timing and when to do what during the ceremony. Again, we are thinking about who will handle this in our absence.
Oh, and children will receive a medal. Figuring that out has been quite time-consuming. What kind of medal do you give a child as young as three years old? Who is this medal for anyway? And what if it goes in a child’s mouth? So we had to find one that was the right size. I would have preferred giving a t-shirt, to tell you the truth, which would have advertised the child’s accomplishment as he or she went around town in this small community, but it was vetoed. Sigh.
We will play Pomp and Circumstance and there will be a cute photo-op made from cardboard and decorated with stars, since our theme has been stars. I’m sure the press will be there. We will be sending out invitations to the addresses we have on file, which we have decided to have verified with a card that we hand the parents when they come to turn in the final log. Our logs, by the way, simply have stars that are marked off. We don’t ask for a list of books, although we do have a few lines on the log where they can write down the name of favorite books.
We will have cake and little bottles of water and everyone will sign our guest book when they first arrive, and that signature will also be their agreement to be photographed and videotaped at the ceremony.
It’s been a lot of work so far–a lot of detailed thinking, maybe too much thinking. I have the feeling that there will be some sort of manual or handbook. You know how much we librarians and librarian types love our procedures, handbooks and manuals. Before I allow myself to get overwhelmed by this though, I’ll focus on one of our goals-to provide children an opportunity to bond with their loved ones and to foster a love of reading-gifts that will last a lifetime, are weightless yet carry far-reaching effects. After our graduation in August, I’ll be in touch of give you all the update!