Monday, May 11, 2015

Summer Reading Program for Babies & Preschoolers

At La Crosse Public Library, we have a rocking Summer Reading Program. We typically sign up around 1,500 kids of varying ages and we have 3 different programs to choose from. One for preschoolers (anyone under the age of 4), elementary school kids (up to 5th grade), and teens (6th grade and up).

When I first came to La Crosse we did The Rubber Ducky Club. A handout was given to caregivers with 6 early literacy activities on it and they were encouraged to come back at the beginning of the month for another sheet and a rubber ducky. While this is a great program, it had been the same format for three years in a row and was starting to feel stale. I knew that next summer I wanted to make some changes.

SRP 2014 Game Card
Last year, instead of having preschoolers and their caregivers visit us once a month, I decided to make a fun game card encouraging two visits each month. On each visit they received a rhyme card to add to their collection. They qualified for a book after two visits, and usually we would see a drop in participation after that. Some caregivers found the game sheet confusing, and it definitely wasn't the most patron friendly. Participation was ok, but it still wasn't quite what I wanted.

Luckily, my lovely boss let me change the program again this year. Introducing the new and improved Summer Reading Program for little ones!

I chose to model the program directly with our school aged SRP. We sign the little one up and hand out a simple half sheets with 4 unique early literacy activities to complete each week. 

A fun activity for caregivers and children to do together, such as a maze or coloring, is on the other side. We have 10 weeks of SRP this year, so there are 10 different sheets to encourage weekly visits. We simply change the sheets out every Monday. They need to complete at least 4 sheets to earn their free book, and now they have an official reason to come in and check out books each week!

On each return visit children are given a sticker to cover our featured villain of the month and help save the library!

Here is a closer look at a few of the half-sheets. Happy Summer Reading everyone!


  1. Love everything about this! How easy for families.

    1. Thanks! It really has made it much simpler for our larger families. Plus, it's so much easier for staff to explain!

  2. I know the idea is that they come each week, but can they only turn in activity sheets from the week before (i.e. turn in Week 1 during Week 2, Week 2 during Week 3) or can they turn in at any point during summer. I ask for those patrons who always stress about missing a week due to vacations.

    1. Great question! They can only get the new card starting on Monday. So even if they come back on Thursday with Week 1, they'll still have to return on Monday to get Week 2.

      We did this to cut down on the kids and caregivers who would just fly through the program and get done in the first 3 weeks. Plus, caregivers and kids are way more likely to check out books on weekly visits then if they're coming back every 2 days.

      We also get the frantic parents who are concerned about vacation. We just tell them not to worry! They only need to complete 4 sheets total to earn their free book and we don't give out weekly prizes, so that has seemed to curb the panic.



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