Summer Reading Fun has Begun...

To see PDF's of the bookmarks, stop here and here
(Note: To see what we are up to for summer 2014, stop here!)

...with a vengeance!
...with an exultation! 
...with a bang!

Holy smokers, what a first day!  We doubled our registrations over last year's first day and the place was rockin'.  There is nothing better, and with 95F+ heat and A/C struggling, we were the (but a wet) place to be!  Our Rubber Ducky Club got off to a great start but it was our school-aged and teen programs that really went through the ceiling.  We just re-vamped both and are we glad we did.  Today, let's look at the SLP materials for ages 3-10.

Our emphasis in past years for our SLP at this library was on encouraging kids to read.  When they registered, we handed them a folder and we asked them to read twenty to twenty-five hours over the course of our 8 week program.  Many kids came back after a week with the task completed, picked up incentives and announced that now that they were done, they were heading off to have fun (gulp). Others disappeared until the last week when they brought in completed folders, picked all the incentives and they were done.  Some came in once or twice a summer to check in and get incentives. Others simply never returned.

This wasn't working. So. How to create a more meaningful program? Over the years, research told us that summer reading is most effective when kids read a little every day over the whole course of summer vacation.  Beyond that, libraries are alot more than reading . They are a place to check out books, attend programs and a place where we promote literacy. We want to encourage check-out of our materials. We want kids to attend the fun events we plan. We want to be supportive of their literacy efforts on an ongoing basis. How could we include all this?

The answers were no farther than solutions we found at my former library. They evolved over a ten-fifteen year period when we experimented with alternative ways to complete the program in addition to reading  - and with collaborative work with our schools as we developed a mutual winter reading program.  I presented the re-designed program when I did system level SLP workshops around the state and colleagues suggested tweaks and more solutions.  We gave kids weekly bookmarks with a range of activities that reflect library use and literacy.

The results at my former library were amazing. By doing the program this way, we had kids coming into the library more frequently; checking out LOTS more books; attending programs and understanding that writing and games support their reading.

So we built on that model here this year and created "Travel Log" bookmarks:

Travel Log (pictured above)
1. Complete at least 7 activities (4 days must be reading) and have a parent or guardian initial.

2. Bring this list to the library and get a surprise and a different Travel Log each week! Surprises change on Monday.
3. You may complete up to 8 Travel Logs over the summer.
4. Compete 5 Travel Logs by July 30 and earn a free book! (pick-up between Aug 1 and Aug 14!)
Day 1 - Read/Be Read to 10-20 minutes____
Day 2 -Read/Be Read to 10-20 minutes____
Day 3 -Read/Be Read to 10-20 minutes____
Day 4 -Read/Be Read to 10-20 minutes____
Day 5-Read/Be Read to 10-20 minutes_____
Check out books at your La Crosse Public Libraries ____
Attend a free program at your La Crosse Public Libraries _____
Play a special game at the library ____*
Write - a poem, a joke, facts about a favorite subject or a letter _____
Play a word game at home ____

We expect the same results here and just after the first day I am confident in the change! It makes the library experience multi-layered and very fun and gives us lots more time to interact with the kids.

*The best part of this activity is that you can create games that highlight the collection. This year we have put a recommended book by grade level into a lunch bag with a suggested grade level on the front (P-K, 1, 2, etc). Inside we put great non-fiction or fiction to entice the kids and if they check out the "mystery" book and try it, they played the game. In other years, we have made "dewey decimal" slips and put them in a hat. Kids draw out a number, find a book in that dewey and check it out.  We also do book character trivia. These are great ways to intrigue kids and promote the collection at the same time!

Samples of our various SLP designs can be found  at the Winding Rivers Library System website under Summer Library Program on the Youth Services page.


  1. ...and such a beautiful picture! ;)
    I'm super excited for the summer!

  2. The programs at your "former library" were truly awesome for kids. Good luck with your revamped program!

  3. It's an exciting program! I love your passport folder.

  4. So what happens if someone brings in a bookmark from 2 weeks ago? Do they still get a prize? Can they "collect" all the prizes?

    Will probably have more questions later...

    Jennifer @ JeanLittleLibrary

  5. The prizes change weekly on Mondays, so all that happens is that whatever week the kids bring in a bookmark - whether its weekly, every other week, once a month or somewhere in between – they get the prize that we are giving out that week. The program is designed so kids go at their own pace…they can come in 1, 2, 3, 4 or 8 times according to their schedule. If they come in twice in one week (it’s possible to finish a bookmark in 4 days, they get the same prize. This doesn’t happen much).

  6. So they can get more than one prize a week? I'm thinking of our parents (we have a lot of very obsessive parents) who will want to take the bookmarks on vacation and bring in a stack at the end of summer.

    Jennifer @ JeanLittleLibrary

  7. Nope, they only get the prize we are giving out that week. We tell grown-ups our library goal besides kids reading is to have them use the library often. We have obsessive parents as well and this has slowed down that "we gotta get everything" mentality. We don't give bookmarks ahead - to get one, you have to turn one in. And we call the prizes, "surprises" so the kids are happy with whatever appears before them. Even if we let parents take more than one bookmark, they would still only get one prize when they turn in three bookmarks. We have had surprisingly little blowback on this all.

  8. Great stuff, Marge. Thanks for sharing. I love the strategies for getting families into the library regularly. I also have parents who take the stuff home, never bring their kids and come back to collect prizes at the end of the summer, saying their 3-year-old read the bible all summer. ACK!

    1. Ack is right. We try to solve for people finishing it all in a few days or not returning until the end. This format has been our best shot yet!