Kids are SOOOOOOOOO very excited this time of year. They are excited that the weather is warmer (FINALLY here on the North Coast) and they can play outdoors. They are excited as new sports seasons get started. They are excited that school is nearing completion.
And they are excited about the impending Summer Reading at their library!
Or at least they should be. And they will be if they hear your impassioned plea for them to join in on the fun.
If only you can get into the schools to tell them.
Which has become harder every year it seems. I understand why. Schools are under an exorbitant amount of pressure for students to perform well on standardized testing, and in Ohio, that means lots of testing during the month of April. In addition, here the school year has been shifted forward several weeks, again to accommodate testing. Some of our students are getting out before Labor Day. As this has occurred in the past year or so, the system as a whole had not adapted and moved up the arrival of our summer reading material graphics.
In other words, it’s getting harder for both the schools’ and our schedules to fit in a Summer Reading visit. I typically start making phone calls in the beginning of April, and it takes me the larger part of the month.
Who do you speak to when you try to schedule? I’ve found that the best person varies from school to school, and can include the principal, the curriculum specialist, or the secretary. Once you find that person, write down their name and number-they are golden.
When my staff and I visit for Summer Reading, we either go from classroom to classroom or have an assembly. I enjoy assembly-style visits. My assistant writes a fun skit for us to perform every year—the kids remember them and approach us all summer! The skit is on the theme of the summer—of course, this year it’s a rock’n’roll theme. The crazier the props, the more fun the kids have.
If we go from class-to-class, we keep it shorter than a skit. We not only promote Summer Reading, but summer lunch at the library, our summer camps, and our learning garden. Kids get excited to find out all the library’s summer plans!
How do you approach Summer Reading Visits? Do you have any best practices to share and make the process easier for all of us? I know many people do presentations with various kinds of media. Our schools are not set up that way, but I would love to hear about what you have used!
Why not poetry? Bite-sized poetry, like haiku? Haiku is brief and compact, yet endlessly evocative. Please check out H IS FOR HAIKU: A TREASURY OF HAIKU FROM A TO Z, by Sydell Rosenberg (Pennycandybooks.com; illustrator: Sawsan Chalabi). Syd Rosenberg was a charter member of the Haiku Society of America in 1968 in NY. She also taught English, literacy to kids and adult ESL. It’s a charming book that celebrates the small moments we may overlook in our daily lives. Perfect summer reading.
We’ve been pretty successful doing trivia, jokes, minute-to-win-it games, and giveaways like scratch-and-sniff bookmarks or little knickknacks to those who participate in the games. They love it!
Minute-to-win-it would be fun, especially for intermediate grades! 🙂