Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Reading Program

Like all book junkies, I love a good library. And, like so many things, you never forget your first.
The local library that I grew up in has a lot of memories for me. I went to storytime here as a kid. I ran around the garden. I saw my first butterflies up close when a woman came in to do a show about them. I surfed the Internet back in the day when people were still using that phrase.
When I got a little older, I started volunteering at the library. As a kid, they had a Summer Reading Program, and I participated. It only seemed fair, at around twelve or fourteen, to start helping out, since I had enjoyed it back then. Over the years, I've gone back on occasion to put some more time in, since this library has sentimental value and because it's a good way to get a sense of what's happening in YA literature.
I signed up for a few times to volunteer this summer. I'm reluctant to take too many times, as of right now, since a lot of teenagers use the volunteer time to get into things like NHS. But I signed up for a few times throughout the coming weeks.
Year to year, not much changes at the Summer Reading Program. The idea of the program is to reward and encourage reading by elementary school kids throughout the summer. Volunteers man a table and record each student's reading. Every time they come in, they get at least one prize. Usually prizes are something small, like a yo-yo or a toy unicorn or temporary tattoos. For an adult, this would just be junk, but for a small child, this is a big deal. These kids then want to work for more prizes and keep reading. At the end of the program, we tally up the information. Kids who read the most get an extra prize. And we record what schools have the most kids participate and which schools read the most.
I do a couple of things. I man the desk and talk to kids about their books (we're suppose to ask them if they liked what they read.) Sometimes I work on Wednesdays, when there's a special guest, and the library is packed, and extra volunteers are needed to deal with everything. And then, this last summer, they asked me to find a way to combine all the data we got.
Easy, I thought. And it was. I just made a spreadsheet. After all the time I've spent at the Offbeat and the Red Cedar Review and the Center for Poetry, spreadsheets are a perfect way to organize data. So I've done that now for them too.
We talked last year about making a zine for the teens, but none of the teens were interested in writing or anything like that. Maybe we'll try again this year. Or we'll find something else fun to do. I've been wondering if they would like to make book trailers, which have become popular, or even start a blog.

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