As we head into summer, many parents want to ensure that their kids keep reading even though most tend to lighten up on other subjects. This is also a great time to sit down with your local librarian and brainstorm on some creative incentive programs!
Some libraries already have incentive programs in place. For example, in Southern Nevada, the Clark County library district has an incentive program that encourages children to read a specific number of books to earn coupons for free hamburgers at In-and-Out Burger. Pizza Hut's Book-It program is an excellent incentive program – kids read books to earn a free individual pizza! The issue with these two examples is that, first, both of them are geared for children ages 12 and under. Second, the Book-It program starts in the fall (and homeschoolers need to register by August to receive the program package).
What programs are in place for teens? Again, this would be a great topic to brainstorm with your local librarian. You wouldn't think a librarian would be so kind and so willing, but really their job is to keep people reading and using the library on a regular basis. Let me tell you about our libraries.
Our libraries are very special – we actually have two different counties we can choose from because we are on a state border.
In Arizona, the Mohave County library is expanding and our librarian here in our little desert town is amazing. If you tell her you want to do something, she gets to work right away to see how to get it approved and move forward. She has come out to our homeschool park days to read to the children, she has participated in game days, and also served as an esteemed judge in our Valentines Mailbox decorating contest. Her goal is to get children reading, and she doesn't care what age they are. And when you look at it from the librarian's perspective, homeschoolers are their dream customer! Our kids are generally quiet, and for the most part they LOVE to read! So with that, she is always willing to help out with homeschool activities as long as there is a reading objective involved (that way she can get approval from her supervisors to attend). Although, I have to say she has even taken her lunch hour to come out to some occasions just because she loves our group so much.
Now, on the Clark County (Nevada) side, we have a great librarian too. However, she can't cross the state line to come to our events. But she is always willing to accommodate us with special programs and projects. As I mentioned earlier, they have the burger incentive for kids ages 12 and under, but she will also allow the teens to participate, she just gives them a higher goal (after getting approval from her supervisor of course!) She will also help us out by allowing us to use the meeting rooms for free classes, and if we don't have a teacher for a subject we want our kids to learn about, she will put out a call to find one for us.
Can your librarian do these things? Of course! Remember, the library is generally paid for through county taxes, hence the librarian is accountable to the patrons who live in their county. Be kind, visit your librarian, express what your needs and your ideas are, and help them do their job better. Libraries not only focus on books, but they have an interest in sharing knowledge on any variety of topics. You need only ask.
Please share with us what makes your library so special!
Log in and comment below, or comment on our Facebook page. Tell us what your library does to encourage kids to read. Do you have a special program for teens? And if you are having difficulty with your library, share that as well. Someone might be able to offer some good suggestions to remedy your situation.