Monday, December 2, 2013

Paws to Read: Winter Reading Program

iRead Paws to Read!
I've been wanting to do a winter reading program since I interned at the Champaign Public Library back in graduate school. They had a kind of year-round reading program and it was awesome. I also wanted something to keep our circulation up over the cold winter months and something to give people who were sad there were no programs from mid-December to mid-January. Although, I have to say, that asking for programs "during winter break" is a bit ridiculous when school lets out December 24 and starts again January 2! I decided I needed something that would be completely hands-off - staff were not going to be able or willing to deal with something as time-intensive as summer reading. But I wanted something more interesting than just tossing drawing slips in a jar. Then I saw Angie Manfredi's winter reading program, which is a kind of bingo game, and it was exactly the spark I needed!

This is how the program will (hopefully) work. On the youth services desk will be a holder with reading challenges. Lots and lots of reading challenges. Here are some samples (I'm still adding to them and organizing the files - if you want the complete set, email me):
Each one has a challenge on the front, a place for information on the back, and a little notation in the corner "Animals 1" that links them to the staff cheat sheet. This is a guide to help staff with reader's advisory when I'm not available. The kids don't have to do the exact things listed on the sheet (and they shouldn't be seeing it at all) it's just a starting point for staff.
Starting out, the program will be for independent readers. What counts as independent the parents and kids can decide. They can do as many challenges as they want in whatever time-frame they want. There's a box to return them on my desk and each week I'll do a drawing. The Grand Prize winners will get to pick from a stash of nice, hardcover books and the Runners Up winners will get to pick from a stash of misc. small incentives - mostly stuff that came with books or that's just accumulated over the years with some candy thrown in on top. I won't be contacting the winners - they will be posted on Facebook and on the bulletin board so people can come in and check each week to see if they won. I haven't decided how many names I will draw yet. If I have enough participants, I might draw a couple names from different age groups or something. I also haven't decided if people can win a Grand Prize more than once - it will depend on the number of participants.

So, all staff has to do is reader's advisory and let kids into the display cabinet to pick their prize, then mark them off the online spreadsheet (when I'm not here). I'll keep some extra stats but otherwise it's hands-off for me too.

Finally, I purchased iRead's summer reading program to use the artwork, since unlike CSLP you aren't limited to just the one summer. So, feel free to borrow my ideas and forms but make sure you either change the artwork or purchase the program!

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