Monday, April 7, 2014

March Reading Program Recap

March is Reading Month, as any teacher or librarian will be happy to let you know. This year I decided to celebrate it at my library with a little reading incentive program, similar to our Summer Reading Program but greatly simplified.

The idea was in part inspired by the great "What to track for Summer Reading" debate that has probably existed among children's librarians since the invention of the Summer Reading Program. In the summer I've always tracked books for the younger kids and minutes spent reading for the older kids. I wanted to try something different. I liked the idea of tracking days, because it helps promote to kids that reading should be a daily activity.

I made up a reading log that basically consisted of a calendar with some clipart added to each day. Kids were told to read 24 out of the 31 days in March. If they completed this task they would receive a free book. The books would come from a stash I've accumulated via a grant, summer reading leftovers and donations from the Friends of the Library.

A picture of the "March Into Reading 2014" log

The basic preparation was fairly easy. I made the log and promoted the program through our usual communication channels. The hardest decision I had to make was the exact dates the program would run. Because I am the only Children's Librarian at my library I wanted to make sure it started and ended on a day I would be working the morning shift.

This was the first time I did this kind of program so I really have very little basis of comparison, but for the most part I was happy the way things turned out. I passed out the logs to around 50 children in the library, and brought many more to preschool visits I did early in March. I've had around 20 people claim their free books. Considering that we are a pretty small library and our Summer Reading Program completion usually runs from 40-60 kids I consider it pretty good turn out.

Some things I have learned through running this program:
  1. You can't plan for everything. The dates the program started also happened to be the same week we got our new Information Desk and Children's Tech Center installed as part of our recent renovations. This meant a lot was going on in our Children's Area besides the start of this program.
  2. It is better to not give firm dates beyond a start and an end. I included date ranges assuming kids wouldn't be backdating their reading but ended up changing my mind for the sake of making things more convenient for parents.
  3. Posting the log on your website is a great way to increase the program's reach. I received several logs printed from home, as well as a few printed from the websites of local schools. I typically shy away from this for SRP because I need the number of participants for our stats, but for this type of smaller scale program posting online worked well.
All in all, I think this program went well. It will definitely be in my plans for next year. Let me know if you have any additional ideas for doing reading incentive programs during the school year!

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