Guest post by Barb Janicek, Children’s Librarian
It’s February. It’s freezing. It’s snowing. All the children’s programmers sit around a table. “It’s time to plan our summer programs!”
Long before we even feel the hints of spring, we have the summer schedule filled with free programs meant to engage kids in fun, creative activities. Studies show that when children read during the summer, they maintain the reading levels and skills they worked so hard to reach during the school year. And they do better when they return to school in the fall. It’s the driving force behind the TD Summer Reading Club, a national campaign. We don’t tell the kids that, though! We just try to offer the kinds of programs they’ll enjoy, that will make them want to come to the library. Our hope is that they’ll be inspired to take books home with them.
The planning begins with the TD Summer Reading Club theme. This year, it’s all about “play.” The programmers brainstorm ideas based on things you can play.
“Puppets. Puppets are fun to play and act with.”
Toys. Games. Science experiments. Make-believe. Dress-up. There is a lot to be learned through hands-on play, and our programs reflect that.
Each programmer comes to the winter meeting with ideas, having already done lots of research and thinking. We tend to get excited over the possibilities of a craft seen on Pinterest or an extension of a new picture book. As one person introduces an idea, suggestions flow to build and expand on it. Creativity is truly a team effort for our shared summer programming.
Once we have a variety of ideas, we have to decide which twelve to offer over the six-week summer session. There were a lot of great suggestions. Too many! But we realized that most of the ideas were for things to make. That’s how the “make your own and take it home” series of programs was developed. At all locations, at different times, kids can make their own toys, games, movies, instruments, costumes, and science “concoction” experiments.
You’ll see a few programs where it’s all about fun and playing at the library. How cool will it be to build a giant fort? To watch a short puppet show and then play with the puppets? To try playing a violin? There’s even a chance to play with some exotic animals, like a little kangaroo.
If it seems like the children’s programmers love their jobs because they get to play with the kids, it’s kind of true! But there’s a lot of thought and planning and preparation that goes into our summer programs.
After all, the library is a natural place to learn and play and sing and read.
Watch for our summer issue of In Touch magazine, coming soon! And remember, all of our programs are FREE.