One idea I came across recently (from the Twinsburg, OH library) is looking for more prizes that are about the experience. Several libraries I know of give coupons for a free pass at the zoo or the YMCA or a baseball game, or use the terrific statewide incentives like passes to the state park or, this year, a local cave. These are great, but they also count on the participation of an adult. In Twinsburg, they focus on experiences that are a little easier for kids to do on their own, like:
- Popsicles (eating a popsicle is certainly an experience, and these are a big hit in Twinsburg!)
- face painting (they are training teen volunteers to do this)
- a small art project they can do in the library
- decorating a cupcake or cookie
Personally, I'm a big fan of getting away from plastic trinkets that get thrown in the trash or stepped on and broken right away. Books are a great option, many libraries cull from the donations they receive, or shop at deep discount stores or the Scholastic literacy partnerships. Another small, fun, non-plastic prize that fits with this year's theme is cool rocks! If there is someone in your community who has a rock tumbler, this would be a great collaboration! Tumble up some rocks to give as prizes--most kids I know are pretty interested in pretty rocks...