Thanks to Becky Arenivar from Prescott Public Library for this inspiring guest post!
I’m always on a quest to engage kids and families who come to the library, but don’t attend events or Storytime. It would be great to get them to come to events and Storytimes. Another goal is just to serve these kids and families with literacy activities that are fun and interesting, that they can do at their convenience. The day I came across DIYProgramming and Book Displays: How to Stretch Your Programming WithoutStretching Your Budget and Staff by Amanda Moss Struckmeyer and Svetha Hetzler* was a turning point in this quest. It not only describes a structure for creating do it yourself activities you can place in the children’s area, but also includes a year’s worth of weekly DIY activities, with clear instructions, comprehensive supply lists and reproducible forms. The activities are adaptable to a library’s needs and constraints.
I planned to start DIY during National Library Week, and slightly altered an activity straight from the book to create our Top 10 List: Why I Love the Library activity. We set up a small table in the children’s area, with a ballot box, ballots, pencils and instructions. We have a brightly colored sign, visible from the library’s entrance, and encourage kids and families to participate when they come into the library. The response has been great, with 35 ballots turned in so far! Once we had a significant number of ballots, I created a poster that tracks the reasons kids love the library. After 3 weeks, I’ll put a different activity at the table, and create a top ten list from the ballots to post in the children's area.
What I love about this activity is how it engages children and their parents and caregivers. We tell parents that they are welcome to help younger children fill out their ballots, but I’m pleasantly surprised to see how many younger children are writing. Those ballots may be harder to decipher, but it’s exciting to see children working so hard to do it on their own. The poster encourages kids to count the smiley faces and figure out how many votes there are for each reason to love the library. Not only literacy, but STEM content? Awesome!
Now, all I have to do is decide what the next activity will be! Maybe something that will promote our Summer Library Program ...
*Note: we also have this title in the IFLS Professional Collection