Topic: Summer Reading Programme: The Great Book Mystery (2012)

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The Summer Reading Programme encourages children to read Library books and 'report-in' to library staff on their reading. At each report-in the child receives a small prize. Children who complete three Report-ins attend a finale ceremony, and receive a certificate, goodie bag of food and book prize - Michelle Anderson (2013).

The Great Book Mystery: Summer Reading Programme 2012/2013 

We run a Summer Reading Programme to: 

  1. Increase library issues over summer, sometimes a period of lower issue figures.
  2. Encourage children to continue reading over summer, to avoid the “summer slide”. Many children return to school after holidays with a lower reading level than when they left ; they simply don’t keep up their reading over summer.
  3. Build relationships with our library users, as the children come in to talk about their books with library staff.

The enrolment number was set at 450.  Demand exceeded supply, and a number of people couldn’t get on the programme.   

Library  Number's enrolled:

  1. Tauranga  186
  2. Greerton  80
  3. Papamoa  118
  4. Mt Maunganui  38
  5. Brookfield School  28

As in previous years, we contacted reading teachers at all Tauranga City schools, and sent letters that could be given to parents of children with reading difficulties, giving these children priority enrolment onto the programme.  6% of the children who completed the programme had enrolled with priority member, and another 6% were identified (by parents) during the normal enrolment as being reluctant readers or  having learning difficulties that impacted on reading and speaking.
There were three other initiatives to attract non-traditional library users to the Summer Reading Programme:  

  1. Children from Brookfield School (decile 4) could enrol onto the programme and report in at their school, borrowing books from the Mobile Library.  This school had run the Reading Together Programme, which helps parents support their children’s reading, so we felt it would be a good partnership.  Having the programme at the school lessened the transport issues some families face, and meant children had a library experience but in a familiar place.  A number of families who enrolled at the school joined the library.  16 children from this school completed the programme, compared to 3 last year.
  2. Merivale School (decile 1) were very keen to be part of the programme.  A teacher offered to bring in students to the library to do their report-ins.  6 children from the school came in to the library under this scheme.  While none completed the  programme (3 report-ins), we were pleased that a relationship is growing between the library and one of the neediest schools in the city.
  3. A new staff member is a Te Reo Maori speaker, and so a bilingual leaflet advertising the programme was created and distributed to families at the bilingual unit of  Maungatapu School.  12 children from this school completed the programme this year, compared to 1 last year. 

The Great Book Mystery: Summer Reading Programme 2012/2013

We had displays in the library and on the website.  Information was sent to all Tauranga schools to include in their newsletters, which many did.  There was an advert about the programme in the free community paper. 
From the evaluation forms, we see that most parents value the report-ins.  Parents appreciate the increase in their child’s ability to retell a story and answer simple questions.  A question on the Evaluation form said Reporting-in is the major component of a summer Reading Programme.  Was this enjoyable for your child?:

  • “Yes they were a bit nervous but came away with big smiles and confident that they were able to share what they enjoyed about the books they read” (Tauranga parent). 
  • “Yes they enjoyed the one-on-one time with a librarian and my 5 year old enjoyed showing off her newly found reading skills” (Papamoa parent).
  • “You got to chat to librarians and tell all about the story especially when you had chosen a good book and enjoyed reading it, you wanted to talk all about it.  The  librarians were lovely and very friendly!” (Mt Maunganui parent).

Receiving a small prize is a definite incentive for many children.  “Fun incentive for reading was excellent, especially for 5 year old” (Greerton parent).  
Because we buy the incentives from a consortium of libraries who buy in bulk, the cost is much lower than we could buy similar incentives elsewhere.  The 3 incentives cost $6.78 per child.  We buy enough incentives for 90% of children to complete.  
Completion rates were 76%, slightly down on last year (81%).  A consequence of  targeting non-traditional library users is their completion rates are lower.  We did not work with a school last year. 
The bulk of non-completers never checked in at all.  This was despite library staff ringing and emailing all families who hadn’t checked in before the programme was finished and reminding them about the programme. 

The Great Book Mystery: Summer Reading Programme 2012/2013

All branches are allocated a set number of hours to employ their student assistant for  extra help over summer to compensate for the extra workload Summer Reading Programme generates. Some students are studying to be teachers, and do the check-ins.  They enjoy being with children, and gain valuable insights into what children actually read and at what age.
Tauranga Library required very little extra staffing this year.  No more than 2 people could be away on one day, and few staff took long holidays. That, plus an additional staff  member now working 20 hours per week, meant only 28 hours of extra staffing were  required (compared to 62 last year).  As one of the extra staff was a student, costs were further reduced.  Tauranga staffing was $414 for this programme, compared to $1,410 last year. 
All children who completed the programme (did 3 report-ins) were invited to come with their families to Wharepai Domain in Central Tauranga on Thursday evening, January 24th.  Children completed a Scavenger Hunt, then received their prize book and goodie bags.  Families could then leave, or stay for a bring-you-own picnic tea.  We did lucky draw prizes from the completed scavenger Hunt forms, and a lolly scramble.
It was a warm summer night and about 272 children on the programme attended.  With siblings, grandparents and parents, it meant around 800 people in the park.  Feedback from the evaluation forms submitted on the night was positive about the finale:  

  • “Finale my son’s favourite bit”  (Papamoa parent).
  • “Scavenger hunt – fun time and loved doing it with my kids”  (Tauranga parent).
  • “The picnic is the highlight – it’s very well run and activities enjoyable” (Greerton parent).

This finale is staffing intensive as we had staff reading and acting stories, handing out prizes and receiving evaluation forms.  We are lucky that staff  give up their time for this (no one is paid).  It was great to have 4 Friends of the Library attend and help with prizes.

Of the 130 evaluation forms (one per family) received on Finale night, 69% believe the  Finale is 'Very Important' to their child, with the remaining 30% saying it’s a nice to have.

Giving a book as a prize has been a tradition at our Summer Reading Programmes, and a nice end to a reading programme.  Once, the majority of our prize books were donations from book reps.  As we no longer see book reps, prize books have to be bought and this has hugely  increased costs and reduced quality of prizes (we have had to buy cheap books rather than popular items)  The grant from Pub Charity, awarded to Friends of the Library, meant decent quality, popular books could be bought, and many favourable comments were received:

“I think the book at the end is so valuable – reaffirms why they’ve done it”  (Tauranga parent).

“The book chosen for G. was SPOT ON!.  SOOO relevant” (Greerton parent).

56% of families thought the book at the end is very important to their child, while the remaining 44% think it’s a nice to have. 
All places were filled for this programme within three days, which shows the popularity of it. Parents value the incentive prizes for reading, (motivates children) and the one on one  attention children get reporting in.  The finale and book as prize are appreciated, and the finale is a great, low cost family night out.  

The Great Book Mystery: Summer Reading Programme 2012/2013 
Michelle Anderson

Supervisor, Children’s and Teenagers’ Services

Tauranga City Libraries

February 2013

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Summer Reading Programme: The Great Book Mystery (2012)

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Summer Reading Programme: The Great Book Mystery (2012) by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License