In January we put a call out for Canadian Youth Services Library content, and we have been overjoyed at the response! This post is the fourth in our guest post series highlighting the amazing work being done in Canadian libraries to serve children and families. Join us as guest blogger this week Kristel Fleuren-Hunter, Children’s Services Librarian at the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, writes about how they shook up their Summer Reading Club last year. Ideas and inspiration abound, let’s dive in!
About me: I am the Children’s Services Librarian at Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library in Nova Scotia. I also manage the Antigonish Branch, which is known in our community as The People’s Place Library. Managing a busy branch takes a lot of my time so I don’t get to be as hands-on with children’s programs as I would like to be therefore I had lots of fun redesigning our summer reading club last year.
In 2014 we decided that we needed to give our summer programs a big boost. Our numbers were dropping and it was getting harder to engage kids in our programs. Over the last few years, we had made some small changes to our summer reading program, including designing our own reading log and transitioning from numbers of books read to time read. But in 2014 we decided to try a new approach altogether. I must extend a big thank you to fellow Nova Scotia youth services librarian, the awesomely creative Angela Reynolds, whose ideas were a big influence on our new program.
Rather than focus just on reading, we decided to focus on learning through the concept of STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Experiences, Arts, and Math.) When children registered for the program, they received a SRC Logbook with different activities listed for each category as well as a place to keep track of their reading. Throughout the summer the children were encouraged to try the different activities, which they could then check off on their logbook. When the children had completed 15, 25, and 35 activities, they visited their local branch to enter a ballot to win prizes that are supplied courtesy of the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program. The prizes are a good incentive for participation as well as an easy way for us to keep track of the numbers of activities that are being completed. In keeping with this, our library branches offered weekly programs that could count towards these activities. These activities included Hogwarts Hijinks, Slimy Science and Squishy Circuits, Minute to Win It, and more.
This program was not only fun but gave us the opportunity to work with other organizations. We encouraged kids to visit local museums and art galleries and we were able to work closely with the Community Access Program (C@P) on technology programs such as 3D printing, Makey Makey, LEGO Robotics, and more. Our branches are all C@P sites and, through C@P, three of these branches have 3D printers. Other items, like LEGO Mindstorm and Makey Makey kits, are shared among all of our branches. C@P also hires summer students to do programs so we encouraged our STREAM participants to take in some of the “cybercamps” that were offered for kids. Something else they could check off in their logbook!
Although some avid readers missed counting their books this new approach was a great way to encourage non-readers to visit the library. All in all, it was a big success and we hope to build on it this year.