Our Summer Reading Program is about to start, so I figured this would be a good time to give a huge shout-out and thanks to Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That for inspiring to make some changes to my SRP.
It is often a struggle for me to get teens to sign up for SRP, so I decided to give the bingo thing a try last year to see if it helped encourage teens to join. My thinking was, in addition to their regular weekly incentive, teens could also get additional prizes for reading, without any sense of competition or doing burdensome work, and this would hopefully draw teens who read a decent amount of books. Because it always seems like for every (non-reading) teen who signs up, there’s a (huge-stack-of-books-carrying) teen who just doesn’t want to do it. And I could never blame them. When I was a teen, I never signed up for a Summer Reading Program either, in what was probably a blend of elitism and snobbery, a sort of “Well, I don’t need a prize to get me to read” thing. Whether its because they just didn’t want to sign up for something, feel the same way I did, or for an entirely different reason, teen Summer Reading Programs, at least at my library, have largely been comprised of non-readers and sporadic readers. And while attracting these teens has its merits, it also left me feeling like I was ignoring a population of teens that is just as important to libraries, the avid readers.
This is where I differ from Adrienne in our quest to improve SRPs. I don’t have the same objections to incentives that she does, but what her post did was make me rethink my SRP and try to find a way to provide a program that would reach those teens who haven’t cared about it in the past.
So this year, I’m really hoping things will be different. For one, each branch is getting an iPod shuffle to give away (yay, Friends of the Library of Hawaii! A thank you card is on the way!). And I’ll be doing daily book drawings* at my library, no registration or sign-ups necessary. This is in addition to the regular SRP, so a teen can register for Summer Reading and get their weekly incentive, assuming they’ve read, and also enter to win a book. If a teen doesn’t want to sign up, they can still enter the drawings. Which, ideally, will attract the avid readers who haven’t participated in an SRP since they were kids and a parent signed them up, while still providing prizes for those who do need them.
* About 60% the books I received from the very kind publishers who sent books to the Cybils YA Fiction nominating panel, the rest I picked up from bookstores or from books that were donated to the library. I mean, yeah, there were some good summer reads with the Cybils books, but I needed to add variety. Like fantasy, and manga, and some non-fiction, and books that aren’t such downers.