Category Archives: Summer reading

Raffle tidbit

A couple of days ago, I was calling this week’s winners of the raffle prizes.  Most of the calls ended up in voicemail, but some people were home…and one call was just so funny that I have to mention it here (and no, I don’t actually remember who this conversation was with!):

Phone rings.  The dad of the child raffle winner answers.

Me:  Hi, this is Abby calling from the library.

The dad:  Oh, no, we have an overdue book?!?!?!

Me:  No, no, no – much better than that!

The dad (excitedly):  Some books came in for us?!!!!!!

Me:  No, even better than that – your [son/daughter] won a gift certificate for a pizza!

The dad:  Awesome!!!!!!  We’ll be right down!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that’s a library lover if I ever met one.  I hope the whole family enjoyed that pizza.  (And thanks to the pizza place that donated the certificate.)

Summer summer summer

And yet another month has gone by since I last posted…which this time is a reflection of just how busy this summer’s reading program has been.  Without a doubt, this has been the busiest summer reading program ever at my library, with books circulating like crazy (often the circulation desk receives two full book carts of children’s returns each day), children reading more hours than ever before (and thus lines of children at the desk each day to collect their prizes), and fantastic attendance at the summer programs.

I’ve been so pleased with this summer’s programs, which so far have included:

  • Wolf Talk with Michael LeBlanc and his wolf Kocheech (I’m sure I’ve spelled that incorrectly, but I’ve never seen it written).  I can’t say enough great things about this program.  Hands down, my favorite library program ever.  Ever.
  • Jay Mankita in Concert.  Jay is a great musician, and we had an awesome concert with him playing outdoors on the library lawn on a gorgeous summer afternoon.  As an added bonus, his talented four year old son joined in and sang with Jay on a few numbers.
  • Bubbleology with Keith Michael Johnson.  What a great show!  Keith does more than just do cool things with bubbles – he teaches the kids a lot about science and experimentation and truly brings joy to that teaching process.
  • World Class Frisbee Show and Playshop with Todd Brodeur.  Todd did a program at the library two summers ago, and it was so good that I knew I had to have him back.  I love that he inspires kids to be active with just an inexpensive piece of equipment and no pressure to be an all star.  Not everyone is a future varsity athlete, but Todd inspired everyone at his show – adults and kids and teens alike – to have fun and be active with a Frisbee.  Awesome.
  • And, of course, there have been library programs, including the Ice Cream Social (biggest crowd ever), the Tie Dye program (once again, biggest crowd ever), book groups, storytimes, Book Gobblers for elementary age kids, and reading to Winston the therapy dog.

And we’re only about two thirds of the way through the summer!  Still some great things to come…stay tuned for reports on those programs…and still a lot of kids doing a lot of reading and working towards having a Big Number on their summer reading bookplate.  Awesome.

A month? Really?

I can’t believe it’s been an entire month (actually, a little more than a month) since my last post.  It feels like it was just yesterday…but then, I’ve been busy.

Since my last post, I visited with every Kindergarten through fourth grade class at the town’s elementary school (unfortunately, the fifth graders were too busy this year to see me).  In a happy new twist, the school’s Library Media Specialist arranged to have the classes walk over to see me at the public library instead of the usual arrangement of me walking over to the school.  We’re very fortunate to be located on the school’s campus, just across the street from the elementary school and right next to the middle school/high school.  While the transit time to and from “my” library meant that I had half the usual time to talk to each class, I was very pleased that some kids who had never before been in the public library got a chance to see what we’re all about.  I have a feeling that some of those newbies might participate in the summer reading program now that they have visited the library.

And then I’ve been busy with all of the preparation for the summer reading program.  This is my seventh summer reading program, and I’m happy to report that all my years of obsessively fine-tuning my preparation systems are really paying off.  I’ve learned to type up notes to myself each summer, so that the next summer goes more smoothly; there are always glitches and things that could have gone better, and it’s really helpful to type up those things so that I don’t have to try to rely on my memory each year.  It’s so nice to be really hitting my stride in my job, and to reap the benefits of my hard work and record-keeping.  The beauty of reaching this point in my career is that I can spend less time building programs and systems, and more time fine-tuning and perfecting.  The groundwork has been laid, I’ve paid my dues, and now I get to really dig my heels in and truly enjoy my job and take my role to the next level of excellence.  I hope that my town and coworkers like me as much as I like them, ’cause I’m hoping to spend many, many more years there!

Back to what I’ve been doing this last month:  how could I forget to mention the Ice Cream Social?  Always the year’s biggest program (even bigger than the Lego Expo), this year’s Ice Cream Social was the biggest ever.  The weather was perfect – dry, slightly overcast, and not too hot – and hundreds of people showed up.  At one moment of panic I actually thought that we would run out of ice cream, which is remarkable since we had seventeen and a half gallons of the stuff!  Luckily, though, we had just enough ice cream for everyone, and it was the best ice cream ever, thanks to my favorite ice cream stand, Erikson’s Dairy of Maynard.  A million thanks to Erikson’s for making it possible for us to purchase their ice cream to keep the masses happily well-fed!  And a million more thanks to the fabulous group of volunteers who helped with set-up, clean-up, ice cream scooping, face painting, and management of the toppings table, bubble station, and sidewalk chalk station.  Without those fantastic volunteers, the Ice Cream Social wouldn’t be possible – THANK YOU all!

The summer prizes went out on Wednesday, and I’ve seen the hours read by the town’s kids going steadily up on the online reading site.  Current number of hours read by the kids: 314.76.  Wow.  And I love that the kids are more focused on reading, and less focused on prizes; only a couple of dozen kids have come in to get prizes so far, but I know that there are at least a hundred kids actively tracking their reading at this point (and that’s just the kids who are using the online program – there are countless others who are tracking their reading on the paper clock sheets).  Wow again.

And that reminds me that I’d better hunker down and get some reading time in myself, so that I have something impressive to post on my reading log sign in the children’s room come Monday.  Next up for me: a re-reading of The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.  Happy summer!

Not that I’m counting, but…

…there are only nine more days of summer reading left.  Nine more days, six more storytimes, one more Scrabble club meeting, one more Lego club meeting, one more big program, one more movie night, and the summer reading finale picnic.

Not that I’m counting.

Weekend update

The two most labor-intensive events of the summer reading program are OVER: the ice cream social and the tie dye extravaganza.  Yay!  I’m really, really, really happy that I scheduled these two events in back-to-back weeks this summer, since it’s a lot easier to keep up that high energy level than to try to regain that intensity after a couple of weeks of “relaxing” events.  Not to mention that the tie dye event would still be looming in the future right now if I hadn’t gotten it over with…sort of like those big term papers that used to haunt me in college.

Both events went quite smoothly, and we had gorgeous weather for both of them; no worries at all about any rain for either.  Only two more outdoor events for this summer, the outdoor games program with Trevor the Games Man and the summer finale picnic, and I’m really only concerned about the possibility of rain for the games, since I imagine we could somehow move the finale picnic indoors if need be.  But the games would be much, much more fun if we have nice weather and get to play them outside – so keep your fingers crossed for good weather on the 19th.

In home news, Jim and I have been working hard again on our current projects after taking a bit of a breather.  I have a superstitious feeling that I will only finally be healthy again once our bathroom project is complete, since last summer’s health adventure began the day after I ordered and paid for all of the bathroom fixtures, so I feel extra motivated to finish the bathroom.  Not to mention that we’ve gotten a little too used to not having a sink in our bathroom (it’s been six months).   So today we finally installed the new medicine cabinet, and Jim re-installed all of the door trim.  We’ll call the plumber tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll be able to have the sink installed this week, just in time for Dan’s visit (always good to have a bathroom sink when you have company coming).  Then some paint touchups to fix any dings on that gorgeous Van Courtland Blue, installation of the baseboards, sealing of the grout, and painting of the bureau which will be our new linen storage unit in the bathroom.  And then – we’ll be done!

I’ve also been painting the front door and the back door, having finally convinced Jim to let me paint them Hunter Green to go with our house color of Hawthorne Yellow.  Bigger project than it would seem, though, since those dark colors need multiple coats of paint.

And I’ve been reading, though not as much as I should be:  Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  I’ve given up on The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma, though; it just didn’t grab me the way I had hoped, and I’ve got soooo many other books that I want to get through.  And that’s the update for this weekend, as I try to move back towards normalcy in life and in my blogging.

Summer’s here…

The class visits at the school are done, fairly successfully, I think; the school year ended on Friday; we had the first movie night of the summer Friday night – Gnomeo and Juliet; and the Ice Cream Social is on Tuesday.  Yup, summer has begun.

I really enjoyed my visits to the school this year.  The kids’ enthusiasm about the participation of the Boston Bruins in the summer reading program was fantastic, and amped up the excitement of my visits significantly (and this was before the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, too).  And the kids also seemed pretty psyched for a lot of the programs coming to the library this summer, which is always gratifying for the person who hired the performers…which would be me, of course.

Movie night, though – I’ll be blunt here:  what an AWFUL movie!  I absolutely HATED it!!  Too much Elton John music, bad animation (or should I just say “uninspired” animation?), and a schmaltzy plot.  Blech.  And the aggressively happy ending, in which Gnomeo and Juliet live happily ever after, unlike Shakespeare’s characters of similar names, simply nauseated me.  And made me think about Lori Gottlieb’s article in the current issue of The Atlantic, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy“: let’s substitute a happy ending for this classic story and animate it with garden gnomes to spare our children the tragedy of the original play.  Blech.   I couldn’t wait for the movie to end, and I was really surprised when there was a lot of applause from the audience at its conclusion.  Talking with the four teen volunteers afterwards during cleanup, though, was encouraging, since all four of them seemed to dislike the movie as much as I did.

And then there’s the Ice Cream Social, coming soon to a library near you.  Jim hauled our chest freezer over to the library this morning so that we’ll have a way to store the eighteen gallons of ice cream that I’ll be picking up from Baskin Robbins on Tuesday morning, and I finished the Topping Shopping trip on Thursday; all that is left now is for the weather to be fabulous on Tuesday, and for the event to be over.  I have a love-hate relationship with the ICS; I love that the families that come to it have such fun, but I hate all the hyper-organized preparation, not to mention sheer physical effort, that goes into the event.  In my view, the best day of the year is the day after the ICS, when I have 364 days to go until the next one.  How grumpy that makes me sound!  Which I’m really not, I just dread the pre-event planning and post-event exhaustion.

So summer has begun, and I should get back to my summer reading.  One child in one of the classes I visited at the elementary school issued a challenge to me that I should try to read more than thirty hours this summer.  Yikes.  And this summer reading program is one week shorter than last year’s, and it was all I could do to get to thirty hours last year.  Time to get back to Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian.  Happy summer, everyone!

Summer Reading School Visits!

Bright and early tomorrow morning I’ll be heading over to the elementary school to begin my class visits to promote summer reading!  I’m really looking forward to these visits, as always, because I love seeing all of the kids at the elementary school, not just the library users, and it is so much fun to read to them and talk to them about the summer.  And, it’s always nice to have a change from my usual daily routine.

I’ve picked out a bunch of great picture books to read to the classes – three or four for each grade level – and Audrey and Jennifer and I have stuffed 625 summer reading bags with the summer calendar, the summer informational letter, clock time sheets, and bookmarks.  Each child will get a bag to take home, and then  >poof<  the signups for the summer programs will begin!  Yay!!   We have SO many great programs coming up this summer, and it will be fun to observe the kids’ reactions to the program descriptions as I talk about them.  My guess is that Mike the Bubble Man’s show will get the most oooohs and aaaahs, but I’m not putting money on that guess…

And this year, like last year, I’ll be wearing special t-shirts for my school visits to help get everyone enthused about this year’s theme.  Last year I wore black and green t-shirts with recycling logos on them, which was way cool, for the summer theme of “Go Green at your Library”; this year I get to wear bright pink and bright yellow t-shirts with “One World, Many Stories” emblazoned on the front.  Not quite as hip, in my personal opinion, but I’m guessing the kids will still appreciate that I’m making the effort.

My biggest worry for this coming week is my ability to read aloud clearly, since I’m still experiencing numbness on my left lower lip and chin, due to the nerve damage from my third surgery six weeks ago.  It will take extra focus and effort to force myself to speak a little more slowly and enunciate well, which hopefully won’t distract me from reading with expression and drama.  We’ll see!!  [And I’m not commenting here on “how I’m feeling” after this last surgery, since I really, really, really don’t want to jinx myself.  ‘Nuff said.]

Here’s to summer coming!  Let’s hope that it’s the best one ever!!

Summer Proud

Yes, I am proud of myself.  Very, very proud of myself.  The summer calendar and program descriptions are 99.99% finished.  This is a four page production – lots of text, lots of fiddling around to make everything fit while properly describing each and every program.  And it’s almost finished!!!  All that remains are to choose four movie titles (which I can’t do yet because the July and August DVD releases have not been announced anywhere yet), get Lisa’s movie titles for the adult movies (obviously, she will have the same movie problem that I do), finalize with the teen volunteers which themes they want to use for the Saturday storytimes, and find out whether Winston the therapy dog is willing to come back for another season of Paws and Read.  But everything else is DONE!  And, I should point out, there is at least one program scheduled for every single day of the eight week summer reading program, and some days have two or three programs scheduled.  Lots of storytimes, a fun puppet making craft program, Scrabble club and Lego club meetings, each book group will meet once, and there will be the debut of the top-secret Book Gobblers program.  And, of course, some awesome performers.  Best summer ever, I hope.

Super duper summer

Summer?  You bet!  I just booked the last remaining performer for the summer reading program, and I am PSYCHED!  It is going to be another awesome summer!  And those of you who read this blog are going to find out right now which performers are coming to the library this summer (and no, you can’t register for the programs yet!):

Davis Bates and Roger Tincknell – two of the town’s and my favorites will be returning for a mid-July gig, full of music and storytelling.  These guys are true professionals who always “bring it.”

Trevor the Games Man – I’ve always wanted to do a New Games-type program at the library, but I’m definitely not the person to run a program like that…and then I found Trevor, the answer to my cooperative games prayers!  He’ll be doing his “Outdoor Special,” which sounds like an absolute blast; and after that, he’ll do his Ribbon Dancer project with the kids so that they each have their own ribbon dancer to take home.  Cool.

Robert Rivest, Comic Mime – When I saw Robert’s video of his show, I knew it was exactly the right thing for the town in which I work – and I also thought that I might enjoy his show a lot, too.  He’ll be bringing his “Humorous Stories From Around the World” to our library.

Mike the Bubble Man – When I was tearing my hair out a week or two ago trying to figure out how to top last summer, Jennifer suggested a bubble man.  What an awesome idea!!  And once I got reassurance from his agent that Mike puts down tarps and brings plenty of towels, it was a go!

Audubon Ark – I haven’t finalized which of their great programs will be coming to the library this summer, but Audubon Ark never disappoints with educational and fun animal programs that allow the kids to see a couple of animals up close and personal. 

And, of course, there will be storytimes and book groups, the Ice Cream Social and the Finale Picnic, and the Tie Dye Extravaganza.  I’m also cooking up a plan to do a puppet making workshop based on some cool new puppet kits from Folkmanis, and I would love to squeeze in an origami program, too.  And hopefully Winston the therapy dog will have time in his canine schedule to do the ever-popular “Paws and Read” program.

See?  I told you it’s going to be a great summer!!

Just three weeks to go…

Somehow, maybe because of all the heat and humidity, this summer reading program has seemed the longest ever.  I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way: we’ve had a lot of great events and storytimes and book groups and kids coming in to get their prizes.  But I keep thinking we must almost be done, and then we’re not…

Like every other summer I’ve worked at the library, I’ve been working like a dog, often staying late (and yes, I stay late for free – there’s no overtime, no worries) and only finishing dinner at 8:30 or 9:00 at night, especially if Jim is at band practice that night.  At some point, I promise that I will sit down and write a good lengthy post on each of the performers who has come this summer, but so far I’ve only found the time to write about Yo-Yo People and the World Class Frisbee Show.

For today, my plan is to read tomorrow’s 6th Grade Book Group book, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.  I had actually forgotten that I needed to read the book for tomorrow until about ten minutes ago – ooooops!  And then tomorrow starts the beginning of the third-to-last week of summer reading!  Hooray!!!!