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How to Run a Successful Program

Why run a Summer Reading Program?

For years, studies have shown that school-age children lose many of their reading skills over the summer months if they do not continue to read while they are out of school. Summer reading clubs first started when library staff realized that they could make a difference. When further studies demonstrated that children who do not learn to read fluently by fourth grade will likely never feel totally comfortable with the printed word, our job was clear. Keep those children reading and make sure they have fun doing so! When library staff shows enthusiasm for the program, it is infectious and the kids will have a great time.

Getting ready

Hosting a successful summer reading program requires planning and promotion! We have provided you with a number of activities and program plans to get you started. 

Participating libraries receive promotional print materials, and you can check here for lots of other great outreach ideas and ways to spread the word about your program. Don’t forget to check out our digital and print ad templates and brand guidelines, too!

Registration of participants and statistics 

Library staff should encourage all kids to register for the program! 

You may wish to download a sample registration form, or devise one that best suits your own library’s needs. Please bear in mind that there is mandatory information that we’ll be collecting from participating libraries at the end of the summer, so please be sure to familiarize yourself with those questions before you begin. These statistics are useful not only to show how many children participated in the program, but also to highlight the great work being done in Canadian public libraries.

Running the program

The program materials have been designed with flexibility in mind. Below are a number of ways you might run the program in your library. 

Tracking reading
Kids should be encouraged to record all the items that they read in the notebook they will receive at registration. They can also visit the TD SRC kids’ website and enter their Web access code to create a virtual notebook in which they can track their reading and TD SRC website activities, as well as collect badges. 

Reporting any time the library is open

Ideally, kids should be able to come to the library at any time and discuss the books they have read with library staff. If kids understand that the library is a positive environment where they can talk to other readers (other kids or library staff), it will encourage them to read even more. It will also allow you to develop great relationships with your young patrons and will provide you with ample opportunity to recommend great reads.

Scheduled reporting times
If you are overwhelmed with children (a good thing!) or are short-staffed, you may prefer to have scheduled reporting times. You may promote specific times each week when you invite kids to come to the library to talk with staff about the books they have read. Or, you might wish to arrange times when kids discuss books as a group. Peer promotion is a great way to build interest in new books, and speaking to a group will help kids develop good presentation skills. 

We’ve provided you with a series of book-reporting questions that you can use with kids (a variety of methods can be used to have children choose a question they must answer). If time permits, encourage conversation about the book as opposed to a one-word response. 

Family-managed book reporting
If a family cannot make it to the library regularly, a parent or caregiver can talk to the child about the books that have been read and distribute the stickers accordingly. 

Written or illustrated book reports
Forms for written and illustrated book reports are available for download, or you can create your own. Kids can submit one of these forms as an alternative to a verbal book report. 

Goals and incentives 

Most libraries give kids a sticker for each book read. Others reward kids for a certain amount of time spent reading.

Children are invited to state their reading goal in their notebooks. Some libraries will offer small prizes or incentives (in addition to the stickers) to encourage kids to reach their goal. 

However you choose to distribute stickers or other incentives, please remember that the Club aims to foster the joy of reading. Ideally, the pleasure found in reading a good book should act as its own reward. Sometimes, if children are only motivated to read by external factors (such as big prizes), the desire to read evaporates as soon as prizes are removed from the equation.

Maintaining interest

In addition to planning activities or programs, you might want to invite community friends and leaders (e.g. firefighters or police officers, the mayor or members of council, etc.) or local celebrities to share their favourite children’s books. Seeing these familiar faces as reading role models will encourage children to read even more! 

Remember that even if you don’t have activities or programs scheduled at your library, kids can always find something to do right here on the TD SRC website. Please encourage them to check us out!