Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Focus: Summer Reading

With Summer Reading Programs in the news (here and here) and the wrap-up happening in so many libraries, I thought I would talk about that.

I love the idea of summer reading because it allows teens (and kids) to read something for fun. 

This year, 107 teens signed up at the library and read 704 books in 6 weeks. They were required to write a mini review in order to log their books.  These are the reviews you see featured on Teen Thursday Review, next week will be the last one.

I love seeing them come into the library and leave with a huge stack of books. I love talking with them about books and offering suggestions. It's awesome when they come back looking for more. I LOVE that so much reading happens.

Then there are the rewards. I have mixed thoughts on rewards. Are they necessary? Will teens read without them? Maybe, but they won't let you know it. After switching to online software, my numbers jumped. I had 3 times as many teens reading and reviewing for prizes. It was also the first year that we had money to spend on prizes and didn't rely on donations. Coincidence? I think not. I'm not crazy about reading incentives, but they do seem to work. My teens really enjoyed them

The candy is always a big hit. This year rolls of duct tape made lots of them happy. 

As for the prizes - I've changed things up over the years. It used to be weekly raffles. Then it was a store. And for the past two years, it's been a tier system.  The tiers have worked out great. The first tier is a box of candy you would take to the movies. The second is a smallish prize, $5 or less. The third tier is book. The fourth, fifth, six, and seventh tier is a choice between a book or raffle tickets.  The raffle tickets are used at the finale event for bigger prizes. This year, for the first time, we had a finale prize of the Blu-ray player. Plus we had several smaller prize packages with books, posters, and gift cards. The cost for this year was roughly $500 - not including the books. All of the books were donated by me (books that I get because of this blog), books from BEA, or some gently used books donated by the public. If the prizes were not taken, I use them throughout the year for other programs or save them for next year.

While at the finale, one person can take home the majority of prizes, but everyone goes home with something. I bake goodies, buy candy, and throw a small party. It's fun and the teens who attended loved it!

The Reading portion for the summer was a complete success - teens read lots of books, which is my goal. It's nice where there are a lot of teens reading. I had less teens reading this year, but more teens reaching the end goal of the program. So the teens who liked reading, read several books and some read a small amount. I count both as a win. The teens who read had to come into the library to get their prizes, many of whom aren't the normal teens who come into the library in the school year. They get to see the teen room, which is great. 

Mostly, I love seeing teens reading and books in their hands.True, it's a very small portion of teens participating when looking at the numbers from the schools. Does that diminish the success of it? Not in my eyes. Teens reading = awesome. And if it takes a few prizes, I'm willing to figure all that out. 

(Summer Programming is a different story - up next week)

1 comment:

Susan said...

It's great that you get teens participating. We're supporters of our library's summer reading program. It's always a big success, but more so among the younger kids. Teens do participate. I think the incentives help keep them involved. But there is a drop-off in interest as they get older.