Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Books Are Magic!

About a year and a half ago, while trying to figure out how to get more teens to attend our library
Somebody's happy about a new book!
programs, I decided to shift my attention to early literacy.  Maybe if I focused on getting parents with young children to visit the library often, those kids would continue this habit through their high school years.  And great timing!  An LSTA Early Literacy Grant became available and, with it, the opportunity to hear inspiring professionals talk about this topic through webinars and workshops.

We knew about the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program and thought this would be the perfect way to start our early literacy movement.  I was worried that the program name might scare some parents (1,000 books!) so we changed it to "Books Are Magic."  I presented a budget to our library foundation committee and they unanimously agreed to fund it.  Hooray!

Free books are always a draw
On February 3rd, 2014, "Books Are Magic" was launched. We held an open house (with the "tease" of prize drawings - new books, DVDs, etc...).  In the first two days, 48 children were signed up.  By May 6th, 100.   On Sept. 15, 122. 

Some of the things I like about this program: it is ongoing - runs throughout the year,  no due dates, no pressure and everyone reads at their own pace.  Some who started in February are on "Step 2" while others are nearing completion.   Five children have completed all 10 steps and have "graduated" and six more are almost there!  

Each library can create their own rules.  We allow children ages birth to five to be signed up.  Parents
Parent + child + book = magic
of a two month old son are reading him the Lord of the Rings!  What a fabulous way to share their own love of literature.  We try to encourage those who don't feel comfortable reading, or who think that they aren't a good enough reader, to look at the pictures and talk about what is happening.  And most importantly - have fun!

Partnerships have been created with our Head Start teachers, 4-K teachers, "Birth to 3" program and we just started a "Little Free Library" at our Health Department.We are thrilled that this has been so well received by parents, grandparents and caregivers, not just in our small community (pop. 1,400) but by all of Price County.  

Who knows, in a few years maybe my teen programs will be standing room only!

Jo Hick, Youth Services Librarian
Phillips Public Library, Phillips, WI

Photos provided by the author