This year was the first year I was involved in our Summer Reading Club Program at the Pemberton & District Library and I loved it! Our small community is very busy during summer, enjoying the outdoors, and we are usually pretty quiet during these months. Our Summer Reading Club program in previous years had become a little stagnant. Parents would sign up the same few children every year whether they were interested in the program or not, program attendance was very low and in 2017 only three reading logs were completed and handed in. We felt that a new approach was necessary to get children excited about reading over summer while supporting literacy through activities and programming that would fit in with busy summer vacations and family adventures. After an amazing afternoon brainstorming session (this literally was one of my favourite days at work), we decided to create and design our own scavenger hunt full of activities (many came from the SRC website). These activities could be completed anytime during the summer. All of the staff were on board and we were really excited about our revamped SRC! We set ourselves a goal of handing out 50 reading logs and having way more than 3 reading logs returned.
By completing activities in the scavenger hunt and by reading every day, participants would earn points. The child with the most points in their age group by the end of the program would win a prize. Children and parents loved it! We had well over 100 children register and over 50 returned completed reading logs! The programs we held during the SRC were incredibly popular with over 100 in attendance at our SRC End Party. We even had to rent a room in the Community Centre to fit everyone in! All on a shoestring budget and without our usual summer student.
This was an incredible experience! I remember so many moments where one of the staff would come out to the staff area and share a story of how a child had just melted their heart with the amount of effort they went to and just how adorable they were! I was also blown away by the reception our SRC programming received in the community! We did not expect it to be as well received as it was. We had to hold a tiebreaker event to decide a winner as so many children completed every single activity and read every single day! Although it was a lot of hard work and there are things we will change next year, the feedback from parents and children was overwhelmingly positive and heartwarming. Parents loved that the scavenger hunt allowed them to do the activities as a family and have quality time together. Many said the library became an active part of their summer, for some SRC became a weekly routine and the children were nagging them to go to the Library! Children were excited and engaged, they loved finding the secret words we had hidden around town and many told us that they couldn’t wait until next year’s SRC!
If I had to choose, just one thing that made SRC so special this year, it was how many children I have gotten to know better through my interactions with them. Many of the scavenger hunt activities required that children come to the library and use resources or interact with staff. This then gave us an opportunity to connect with many of the children and their parents. I especially loved the activity where participants had to come and tell a staff member a joke. Many children had never even spoken to a staff member before and many practiced their jokes at home before coming to tell one of us. It was very moving to watch them overcome their shyness and interact with us, and we all were able to create special bonds with many of the children over the SRC that have lasted long past the summer! I feel so proud of our team and what we achieved this year with SRC and I too can’t wait for next year!
*A note from Gen: I titled my story “Welcome to Summer Reading Club”. This was not only the title of a letter we sent home with the children who registered, it was also my welcome to SRC.