A View from the Stacks: Winter and Summer Programs Promote Reading

Head of Youth Services, Mesa PUblic Library

Quick! Name a Caldecott winner! Name a book written by an author whose last name starts with “T”! 

Name a book with frogs! If you were one of hundreds of children (237 to be precise) who registered for Los Alamos County Library System’s Winter Reading program over the last three months or who had someone in their lives who read with them or to them, you’d be able to answer these questions.

Here are some answers: My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann, Three Times Lucky by Shelia Turnage, and Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London.

Many people know the library offers an annual summer reading program for ages 0-18, and even for adults – any age is invited.

But not as many people know about our Winter Reading program, which gives readers ages 0-18 a chance to not only read for incentives but to explore new and interesting genres in the library.

For the past several years, our Winter Reading program has been structured around a bingo card. Library staff creates a bingo board with each square representing a different title.

It’s quite fun to come up with what will fill each square – a book with frogs, a book with penguins, a book in a series.

This is a great chance for staff to really stretch their book recommendation muscles – something we love to do!

To earn the incentives, passes for one day entrance to either the Ice Rink or the Aquatic Center, participants must complete a bingo in any one direction.

For the 0-7 year-old set that means reading (or having read to them) five books. For the 8-12 year-olds that means three books.  

Bingo cards quickly filled up as parents and children found books to share and learned about the library collection and literary awards for children along the way. One square was for a book that was a Pura Belpré Winner or Honor book.

Many parents had never heard of the Belpré Award – so library staff had a chance to let them know that it is an annual award presented by the American Library Association to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

The Winter Reading program and the bingo cards opened up opportunities library staff cherishes: the chance to introduce readers to new works and writers.

Winter Reading Program bulliten board featured a star and rocket motif. Kids who completed special incentives were eligible to hang a star on the display. Courtesy photo

Star squares on the bingo cards represented special incentives – when children completed a star square they were eligible for hanging up a star on our Winter Reading display.

Children loved the chance to hang their name up and to be part of the galaxy and, as you can see from the photo, it made a great display and encouraged others to join the program.

You might have noticed I only mentioned our younger readers, but the program was open to teens as well. Of course, we always make sure to have offerings for teens. In place of bingo cards, however, teens were tasked with writing shelf-talker reviews to earn their incentives.

What’s a shelf-talker? It’s a short review that goes on the shelf so that people browsing can see real feedback from real readers.

This is especially effective with teens, who really rely on each other for word of mouth recommendations. Here’s an example of a great shelf-talkers: “Absolutely terrifyingly amazing.” Now that’s a book sure to fly off the shelves!

As Los Alamos County Library wraps up another successful Winter Reading program, we look forward to the next slate of programs for children and teens.

In April, we have a week full of programs for Spring Break and a special day full of activities celebrating our multicultural community and children with El Día de los Niños.

And, of course, Youth Services staff always loves recommending books to suit every child’s interests, even if they don’t fill out bingo card squares.

You can keep up-to-date with all the latest Youth Services programs and initiatives by visiting our website at http://www.losalamosnm.us/library/Pages/YouthServices.aspx or liking us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Los-Alamos-County-Library-System/407149149379936

Drop by Mesa Public Library or the White Rock branch and ask for a great book to share with a child in your life or browse through the teen section and see what teens are recommending to each other. And stay tuned in June and July for our summer reading extravaganza!

Editor’s note: Every other week, a member of the Mesa Public Library staff will share their thoughts through the “A View from the Stacks” column.



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