Reading is Key Club

I have been writing over the past year about our approaches to programming.  We are balancing traditional staff-led programs with more participatory programs that allow kids and families to control the pace and level of involvement.  We call these types of programs "Stealth" programs but you may know them as passive programs.  The point of the initiatives, which require some pre-planning and set-up but then basically run themselves with little staff time needed, is to bring families into the library for frequent visits (think SLP here).

Our various programs have various goals. One encourages more check-out and program attendance at an under-used branch. One encourages visits and check-out in December and January, traditionally very slow months for our library. One asks parents to read widely to their preschoolers and keep track of their reading as they read towards 1000 books.  Many of them work well for school age kids and older preschoolers. But we wanted something for our very youngest babies and infants.

So our current Reading is Key Club was born.  Our early literacy librarian designed the program for children birth through age two.  She wanted to use it as a bridge between the end of spring storytimes and the beginning of our summer ones. The program encourages weekly use of the library. Her ultimate goal in the design, though, was to introduce parents of our youngest patrons to the wide variety of collections we have for that age.

A little mascot, Key-Key (my colleagues stopped me from naming it Little Keyster ;-> ) introduces tots and parents to seven areas of the collection - Cds, rhymes, board and baby books, easy non-fiction, fingerplays, paperbacks, concept books - and encourages parents to use these materials each week. If parents participate for at least four weeks their child receives a set of plastic key rattles or a book bag to color for older tots.  And they can pick up that prize during summer storytime registration.

We love these programs that run between storytimes and allow our staff to take vacation time while this effort rolls along. And we get to emphasize books, the library and reading. What could be better?

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