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Children’s Webinar Q&A

Q: Do you have any ideas on how to boost participation in the program and get kids excited about summer reading?

A: One of the best ways to do this is to go out to schools in your area. Wear your CSLP t-shirt, booktalk a few books you’re excited about, and maybe do a demonstration of a really engaging STEAM activity you’ll be doing at one of your programs.

Q: What is the best way to track participation?

A: When you’re deciding how to track participation, first determine exactly what information you need to collect. Do you need names, ages, and grade levels, or do you simply need a total number of participants? My best advice is to streamline this process in any way you can, and only collect the information you really need. Some libraries keep a database of patron registration and participation, while others pre-number their reading logs, and then look at the number on the last log remaining to determine the total number of registrants. In short, there is no “best” way; choose the method that matches your library’s needs and resources.

Q: What are the best ways to market the summer reading program to the public?

A: Get the word out every chance you get! Send home flyers through schools, or post articles in online school newsletters. Write short articles for your local newspaper. Approach a local news station to ask about appearing on the news to talk about your program. Bookmarks or other small take-home items with the program dates and any other information you’d like to highlight are useful; patrons can easily grab these when they’re in the library, and you can also drop them off at youth centers, community centers, and other places around town.

Early Literacy Webinar Q&A

Q: In the summer, we often get school-aged kids attending storytimes with their younger siblings. How can I plan books and activities that are appropriate for a wide age range?

A: First, I would decide- along with your director and your department- what the goals of your storytimes are. Are you aiming to offer all-ages storytimes, or are they targeted programs geared toward specific age groups (for example, two and three-year-olds)? Once you’ve determined your goals, you can move forward with planning. Of course, no matter what, you’ll welcome older siblings to your program. If you’re offering an age-specific program, be sure to advertise it as such, and let older siblings know as they walk in that they are more than welcome. If you like, invite them to help you hand out supplies or even turn pages of a big book, but I would encourage you to maintain the content that you had originally planned for your target audience. If you’re offering an all-ages storytime, I would recommend selecting books with wide audience appeal; try books that encourage participation (look for a repeated refrain or predictable rhymes). Additionally, offer multiple options for actions that go along with songs and rhymes: caregiver-child actions for babies and young toddlers, full body actions for older toddlers and preschoolers, and possibly more complex motions for school-aged children.

Q: Do you have any tips for encouraging participants to keep coming back throughout the summer, instead of just attending one session?

A: One approach is to offer activity logs in a variety of colors. For example, you might start participants out with the yellow log, and when they bring it back, completed, you might give them the orange log. Continue in this fashion, and each time a family returns a completed log, give them a small prize, an entry into a grand prize drawing, or the opportunity to add their child’s name to a Wall of Readers. You could offer the same log in different colors, or you could vary the content of the logs as well as the colors.

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