Apparently, April is almost over, and the days before Summer Reading starts are alarmingly numbered. Luckily, this post is a good wake-up call!
For a few years B.C. (Before Covid) I changed up my Teen Summer Reading Program because my numbers were stagnant. Instead of a formal tracking system, we tried out scratch tickets and it was definitely a hit! We made it super easy and every day a teen came in and checked out an item, they would earn a scratch ticket (one per day.) I had a good ratio of small prize winners and non-winners and included a big-ticket item in the pile each week. I made a prize board highlighting the bigger prizes to entice them. Most of the teens really liked it and we drew a much larger number of teens. However, a few of my teens missed tracking their reading so I added that back in and left it optional with a few prizes just for participants of that program.
Then came Covid. Scratch tickets were out of the question since we weren’t even open to the public that first summer, so we switched to an online program through Beanstack. We didn’t have a huge number of teens, but Beanstack allowed us to offer multiple ways for teens to participate in Summer Reading. They could earn virtual badges by completing challenges ranging from reading from a specific booklist to answering questions by visiting our website to picking up trash in their neighborhood. This year we are keeping the online program since it is so versatile, but we are adding back the scratch tickets in the hopes of reaching out to the teens that we lost and showing new ones how awesome a bunch of nerdy librarians can be!
The other thing I am excited to incorporate into Summer Reading this year is the Massachusetts Teen Choice Book Award list. I am planning to add the list to the online program and challenge the teens to read at least 5 this summer so they can vote on their favorites this September. I am working on planning a few programs around the award as well, but those are still in the beginning stages. Since I am on the committee, I have read a good amount of them and I am working on trying to read the rest before the summer so I can make some good recommendations! It’s a great list, so even if you aren’t from MA, please check out the site (and the amazing work our PR subcommittee did!) and follow our social media accounts.