Summer Prizes - Good-Bye!!

Robot sample

Oh.my.gosh. We're doing it!!!! We are not giving weekly prizes during summer reading program this year! Woooo-hooooo!

For those of you following the blog, you may remember that I stood on the precipice two years ago considering prizes or no prizes for our school age SLP component. My colleague Sara (who, while she blogs over at S. Bryce Kozla is also just a room away from me IRL) was encouraging last year,  but I didn't have the time or the will to get the team together to solve the problems/design a weekly-prizeless summer.

But this year we were ready when planning time came around. We decided to do a three-pronged change-over.

First we morphed our weekly bookmarks into weekly game cards. As always, our summer program is not just about reading but about kids writing, using the library and engaging with the world around them. The new card design for the first week is below at the end of the post. As always, kids can do as many or as few of the game cards as they'd like. It's a free choice program.

Each time the kids finish a card - any five squares, they get a sticker to put on our robot. All squares filled in = 2 stickers.

And those stickers help us keep track! Kids will be participating to raise money for a local charity/child-friendly organization. We have three locations so the Humane Society, Children's Museum and local Eco-Park will receive the money raised. We think kids will love the thought of their reading helping out a worthy cause.

Next, each time kids return  with their game card filled in, they will get a sticker that they will add to build our giant robot. We are using the CSLP Fizz Boom Read theme and clearly, we MUST build a robot.

The robot's head will be high out of reach and kids will fill in blocks with their stickers to gradually build the robot. This picture above is a pathetic attempt to illustrate the concept of how the robot will grow through additions of mini-blocks. To start, there will be a foot block, an arm block and a torso block.  As each block fills with stickers, we will add more blocks to build the robot. We hope to motivate the kids to rock out their reading and activities to build the robot BIG!

Like every year, kids who return to the library with at least four completed game cards receive a free a book to keep. We are always thrilled to offer kids a book.

And we staffers will be reading hard too! Plans are afoot to track our reading so kids can see how their librarians are doing.

We are truly excited to take this no-prize step and look forward to navigating the reactions from the kids and parents....stay tuned! And more stay tuning! And the results!!!!!!!!

Slick new card designed by the team!


  1. This is such a great idea! Quick question: where is the money coming from? Are the kids doing the fundraising? Will the library be donating from its own funds? Thanks!

  2. Our friends of the library pledged the money. The kids "raise the mney" by reading. We'll see the response this year and thenn figure if we set a baseline for them to beat next year...a bit more of a challenge. Just not too sure of the response yet!

  3. I've been behind on my extra library reading and just saw this. Marge - I love this idea!! How is it going? I'm really curious.

  4. I'd love to hear an update about how your re-vamp of SRP went! How much money did your kids "raise" by reading? Was it more or less than you were expecting? If you keep stats, did you see a change in the number of registrants? Thanks for sharing!

  5. Absolutely will be doing that Stephanie. We closed the program 8/16 and will start doing our stats shortly. We can hardly wait as well!

  6. Hi Marge, How were you able to get your library staff and patrons on board with this plan? I'd love to go prizeless and make the landfills emptier and my patrons' lives fuller. Can I pick your brain about this sometime?

    1. Hi Jenni, Most of the staff were already on board. It was a process that happened over a few years. Staff could see kids didn't seem to care about the doo-dads and started reconsidering. We offered books for the past five years and staff/parents could see that kids REALLY responded to this as a final "atta-girl-atta-boy!". And we offered a 1000 Books Before K program where kids got stickers for every 100 books read - parents who graduated to SLP were like "Why are you giving out all this stuff. Stickers will do it". Also other libraries were reporting out good results. So, many culminating forces led us gently down this very successful road. 'd be glad to have my brain picked. Email or skype!