|This is our brag board. Kids who finish add their names to a music shape.|
So, you've promoted your summer reading program, you visited all the schools, and you have lots of kids signed up and coming to programs. How do you motivate them to finish the program?
1. Offer prizes. Every child at my library who finishes summer reading receives a free book. They also receive a raffle ticket for a scholarship and several prize baskets, and they are allowed to finish as many times as they'd like in order to earn more raffle tickets.
2. Make a brag board. I have a bulletin board dedicated to finishers. Those who finish summer reading get to add their name to the board, and I'm hoping the board is very full by the end of the summer.
3. Encourage enthusiasm. I ask all volunteers and staff who work at our summer sign up table to be enthusiastic with the kids. That enthusiasm must be present when kids receive their halfway prize and even if they stop in just to chat. Kids are much more likely to bring back their paper for a finishers' prize if they know the person behind the table will celebrate with them.
4. Do something crazy. Last year our library had approximately 900 finishers. This is good, but it's a smaller percentage of our sign-ups than we wanted to see, so this year we set a new goal: 1500 finishers. Along with that goal, I created signage letting the parents and kids know that if at least 1500 kids finish summer reading, I will shave my head. We talked about this at the school assemblies, I've mentioned it in programming, and there are flyers up in the library and on our social media pages advertising this fact. Because yes, if that many kids spend that much time reading, I will absolutely shave my head. Sometimes you just have to be willing to do something wacky enough to keep people interested. [As a side note, we have nearly 1000 kids signed up through various day care facilities, and they are a near-guaranteed finish, so I will probably be bald in the near future]
What do you do to encourage kids to finish your summer reading program?