After helping with 2nd grade tours when I first joined the team, we realized that adding Kindergarten to the mix was the next step in solidifying our relationship with the schools. Plus, this way we get to see a child at least two times during their first three years of school!
First, we contacted each school and asked for their school roster. This allows us to look up each child, see if they have a card, waive any fines, and send home a library card application if they need a card. Our goal is that every kindergartner will have an opportunity to get a card they can actually use by the time they leave our tour. Of course, this doesn't always work if caregivers don't sign the form or bring it back.
For scheduling the tour, we send out a mass email to each library media specialist and ask them to respond with 3 dates and times that work in the month of January or February. Since all of the second grade classes visit during this time too, we scale our programming way back during these two months to accommodate all of our tour friends.
When the kindergarten class comes, we gather in our programming space and talk about what the library does and what it means to be a library sneaker. We emphasize that ONLY kindergartners in La Crosse get to call themselves library sneakers and that it is a very special honor. We also share the "prizes" they get for returning to the library.
After reading Pete the Cat we break into our three groups for the next section of the tour. Each group gets to do all three parts, and we rotate every 7-9 minutes. One group gets a room tour, one gets a super secret tour, and one gets to hear another favorite book.
The room tour is fun because it's a chance for us to show them where they can find books best suited to their tastes in the room. It's also a chance for us to talk about the library desk and how we love to help people find good books and movies. We simply look for a certain shoe and sing "I love my ____ shoe" as we dance over to the right section. The librarian in charge of this tour is always the head dancer or head sneaker depending on their preference.
The super secret background tour is well loved by everyone because the kids get to see how a book drop works, and we tell them that everything they see is secret. ONLY kindergartners in La Crosse get to go on the super secret tour. Really it's just a quick walk through circulation and talking about how our process works, and then it's time to switch spots again.
For the additional story, we started using The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. I know some people have had storytime misses with this one, but our groups love it. I start by explaining that I've never read the book before but Miss (whoever else is doing part of the tour) said that I would really like it, so I thought we would try it. I act really surprised of course during all the ridiculousness, and I also follow my fingeralong the words as I read them. This has really helped the kindergartners make the connection that I have "no control" over what I'm saying. Plus, they're learning all about that print awareness!
Out of everything we do, The Book With No Pictures is the thing the kids remember when they come back to visit us. Their caregivers have heard all about it, and they have to read it or even go out and buy a copy themselves.
For my librarian friends who like stats- this is what our current year looked like: 53 students already had a library card. 429 students did not have a library card at all. They were all sent home a library form, and 260 of them returned it. That's 60% of students that now have a brand new library card!!! 45 students had fines on their card. 21 of them were over $10, which means their card has been blocked. For these cases a personalized letter was sent home from our circulation manager explaining the situation and inviting the family to visit the library and speak with her so they could work something out. The other 24 students had fines under $10 and we just waived them completely. Last year we saw over a 30% return visit from our kindergarten friends.
So, if you don't give specialized tours then please consider it. If you have any questions, want to read the scripts we use, or just want to pick my brain then contact me!