[kids-lib] Early literacy and summer reading ideas

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Fri Jan 2 14:51:59 PST 2015

Hi! I just finished reviewing the 2013-2014 Ready to Read Grant final reports. You are doing some great things! Below is a list of some of the things Oregon libraries are doing around early literacy and summer reading programming. I thought you might be able to get some good ideas from these.

Early Literacy:

*         1000 Book Wall of Fame where each child who participates has a place. At sign-up each child is given a felt pennant to decorate with their name. We hang them up for all to see and many come back to point out their name and show their family. When a child finishes 1000 Books, we take a picture with a Polaroid to pin to their pennant. Not only do they get the recognition for finishing, but the pictures dotted throughout the Wall of Fame serve as a great motivation for the other children.

*         During early literacy outreach session to high risk families we focus on helping parents learn a couple of things really well, rather than presenting a lot of things they might forget. We focus on attitudes and perceptions as much as we focus on specific early literacy content. Parents we build relationships with gain the most knowledge and confidence, and are more likely to result in continued benefits for the child.

*         Instead of traditional storytime crafts, we made flannel boards first and then made character sets for one story per week so they could retell the story at home whenever they want.

*         A visually impaired child was in one of the Head Starts where we present outreach storytimes. Staff made sure to use an especially animated voice and brought props for the visually impaired child to touch so she could be involved along with the rest of the class.

*         During storytime the group was singing 'You Are My Sunshine' and the librarian noticed a young child started singing 'You Are My Snowflake' and instead of correcting or ignoring the child, ran with it with the whole group to model changing lyrics to familiar songs helps children learn to play with vocabulary and use new words.

*         Partnership with community college. One of the professors beings all the new early childhood students to the library and we talk about early literacy, demonstrate a storytime, and share resources that we have available for them to use with children and share with the parents of the children. We've had students come back and use the library as well as feedback from the professor about how many had no prior knowledge of the services and resources at the library.

*         We created our own bilingual rhymes and poems coloring book.

*         Used data collected through interactions with other local agencies as we work together through Oregon's new Early Learning Hub process to increase and improve our collection development so it is more culturally relevant to at risk children and their families.

*         For consortia/libraries with multiple branches: We created a set of 15 iPads pre-loaded with preK and storytime appropriate apps for member/branch libraries to use in storytimes or other early lit programs.

*         Children brought stuffed animals from home to interact with the puppets in storytimes.

Summer Reading:

*         We found that all the families (tweens and their adults) who attempted the scavenger hunt through their favorite childhood books while using the catalog and sharing their favorite apps/websites completed it, 38 in total. One parent noted "It's nice to have this program together. It's a good way to communicate with my [tween]." This was an exciting discovery--that tweens and adults liked the opportunity to talk about books and reading. In the future, we will strive to provide more opportunities for tweens and their adults to connect with each other about books and reading.

*         We solicited input from the English Language Learners teacher at our local elementary school for titles that would be relevant for her students, and purchased many of them for our giveaway books. We had especially good feedback about the giveaway books this year. A few participants timed their completion to coincide with a birthday or other special event because it was such a treat to choose a free, new book.

*         Through a partnership with the elementary school, I was able to sign-up all the English Language Learners in K-5th Grade in the SRP. Before school got out I visited the ELL classes to present the program and reading logs and show them sample prize books, some of which were bilingual that would allow these children to read with their parents. It was a great incentive for these children.

*         Partnered with the school district to serve as a lunch site for the summer food program. Sack lunches were prepared by the school district and the library served them in the park across the street from the library. The library provided storytimes, activities, and giveaway books Monday through Friday for 6 weeks.

*         Kids who filled out and returned book reviews received a small incentive and their reviews went into a binder where other children can access them so they can find books to read recommended by their peers. Kids could fill out and return as many book reviews as they wanted.

*         Extra points were given to children/parents reading to each other and discussing story contents. Teamed up with a local pizza restaurant that offered kids who read 8 books over the summer a free mini pizza, 75% of participating kids took advantage of this offer.

*         We have a "dress code" for each summer reading program. I list the dress code for each program with the SRP sign-up information and programming schedule. The kids have to research to plan their outfit. If they dress the code for that program, they are entered into a prize drawing. While the drawing is being done, parents/caregivers take the time to do a quick survey.

*         Each performer provided a bibliography and program-extenders for their program. The library purchased the books from their bibliographies, created weekly displays for checkout, and distributed copies of the bibliography and program extenders.

*         Our biggest surprise was family participation in the mascot program. We had six stuffed animals at businesses in towns. When kids saw a mascot they came to the library and filled out a slip, each a chance to win that mascot. Some families showed up at the library for the first time because they saw a mascot at a business in town. We plan to expand it next year because many local businesses were jealous of the ones that got the animals. According to our survey results, this was the most popular part of our program that families did together.

*         We partnered with a local school and had the school library staff sign the kids up onsite at the school.

*         The library's SRP volunteer program is the largest teen community engagement program the library coordinates. 86% of the volunteers were in middle or high school, SRP volunteers logged a cumulative total of 15,000 hours. Teens built relationships with non-relative contacts for future employment, scholarships, and various other activities that require references; teens broadened their perspective "The most challenging thing was communicating with people I didn't know and people who spoke different languages"; teens were mentored by trusted adults "My favorite part of summer reading was spending time at the library and getting to know staff."; Teens get to provide direct service in their neighborhood "The best part is talking to all the regular people and kids who live near me and come in to the library to get a prize."; the community sees teens engaging in service to others; teens develop a sense of responsibility "Working with the staff and being able to experience what a almost real job would be like" Teens learn job skills "My favorite part of volunteering was that I got to work in the library and I gained experience in customer service"

*         The SRP was promoted in residents utility bills.

*         Adding passive programming for adults engaged them more in the theme and helped more families participate together in summer reading.

*         I have kids who only live her part of the time because of shared custody. SRP participants can earn points for attending events and these kids lost out on points because they were at their other parent's house. Next year I plan to make a sheet they can complete while away and turn back in to make up missed event points.

*         Each week in conjunction with our summer reading theme, the local Community Center/Parks & Rec offered arts and crafts. This was promoted as Fizz, Boom, Create. The summer reading coordinator attended it each week and found it to be a positive experience for the children. Most of the children who participated were those involved in the summer reading program.

*         In rural northeastern Oregon, the library's weekly summer reading program numbers were horrible so I decided to make a change. I decided to try an independent reading program where families read together and reported back to me when it was convenient for the family. Families earned tokens and would shop with me, discussing savings tokens for better prizes (books) or spending what they had that day on smaller prizes like puzzles. Last year we had 84 children sign up and almost all met their reading goal. It was incredibly time consuming and there is only one .75 staff person at the library. I was so busy and exhausted I didn't want to do it again, but decided to do it again anyway. In 2014 we had 119 children sign up and 72% met their reading goal. I will continue with this program because it just keeps getting bigger. Now the kids come in to the library all summer long. They get to know the library and what it can offer them. It is truly amazing. The kids love it. The parents love it. One family called it the highlight of their summer!

*         The new principal saw a librarian visit the elementary school's free lunch site to read stories during the summer. This opened the door for us to participate at their Back to School Night. From these great interactions, we were invited to join the school's Community Partner Team and more!

*         We recorded sign-ups, program participation, and completion for students at our target elementary school. The school was the only one in the area with more than 75% of students eligible for free/reduced lunch. At every library program we asked students who attended the target school last year to raise their hands to track their participation in programs. We also collected data through returned coupons from children enrolled in Migrant Summer School who received an extra free book as a bonus for signing up for SRP.

*         We created a weekly Bonus Ticket prize drawing. For this drawing, kids were asked to write or talk about their reading with a grownup. It was both a way to support comprehension skills development, and a way to offer an additional element for those super readers who always want to do more. The Bonus Ticket drawings were enjoyed by both patrons and staff. We had a good rate of participation, with many kids entering almost every week. The bulletin board display of entries was a great celebration of the summer's reading, and staff enjoyed having conversation with kids about their latest favorite book. It was unanimously decided that we will do this again next year. Survey results indicated that more kids participating in the Bonus Ticket improved their ability to describe what they read (68%) and express their opinion about what they read (70%) compared with kids who only did the independent reading log (45% described better, 53% expressed opinions better).

*         We created a spreadsheet to track reading progress, program attendance, and parent participation.

*         We included a new Community Reading Goal component this year. We calculated the number of minutes we felt would be attainable for our community to read throughout the summer (1.5 million minutes). Each age level's reading log included tracking the number of minutes read and the total reading time for all participants was added together. Throughout the summer we tracked our Community Reading progress on a public display. We happily reached our Community Reading Goal a few weeks before the end of the summer. In the end, the community read 2.6 million minutes! We believe this helped encourage excitement about reading among all participants and the library also received positive publicity in the local paper.

Katie Anderson, Library Support and Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528

Become a StORytime<http://storytimeoregon.com/community-partners/become-a-partner/> partner!

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