Southern Pines, NC Summer Reading Program
Southern Pines in North Carolina has had a very successful summer, beginning with their book distribution/storytelling event in Southern Pines schools and ending with the Southern Pines Public Library summer reading program celebration, featuring African stories and drumming. Over 600 people signed up for the summer reading program, which encouraged all participants to read at least 20 minutes a day for the duration of the program (June 1st to August 23rd). Participants could cash in their time or participation in library programs and activities for 'book bucks', which in turn could be exchanged for prizes donated or funded by local businesses. Some local businesses also got involved by talking with children about their reading and giving out ‘book bucks’ when the kids brought in miniature versions of the program's mascot, Freddy the Frog for a visit.
The Boys & Girls Club
One of the goals of the Summer Learning Program in Southern Pines was to improve the experience kids had with reading, and get them excited about reading times. The way this was approached was by asking their local partner, The Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills, if their Stop, Drop and Read time could be modified. Previously kids resisted Stop, Drop and Read due to a few variables: the lack of quiet space, no adult examples of reading practices, and the impression of the time as being negative rather than positive.
On the day of the change, the Library brought in Freddy the Frog, the Southern Pines Grows Great Readers mascot, to do a Pep Rally for the kids. Freddy gave high fives, did the Boys & Girls Club cheer, and promoted reading as fun. At the same pep rally, library staff told the approximately 200 children that they were signed up for the library’s Summer Reading Program, and good readers during for Stop, Drop and Read would earn points towards prizes at the end of the summer. The Boys & Girls Club staff then took groups of children to different areas of the building where they could be more comfortable and find quiet space, let them pick out an age appropriate book, and sat with them. Some groups just read quietly together, others took more of a story time approach with a read-aloud. The children became less stressed about the reading time and began to enjoy themselves, especially when Freddy the Frog came around to join their groups.
At the end of the summer, Library staff went back to the Boys & Girls Club to give out prizes. All of the children were able to select prizes, which ranged from pencils, stickers and notebooks all the way to books, boomerangs and frisbees. The kids had a blast picking out their prizes, and when asked if they remembered why they were getting prizes, responded “ Because Freddy the Frog thinks we are good readers."
Summer Reading Family
Within Southern Pines and the surrounding towns, there is a large military community, due to the close proximity of Fort Bragg. Many military families frequent the Library, and one particular family was very involved in the Summer Reading Program.
The father had recently been stationed here, and was living in Southern Pines. His wife and three boys (ages 6, 9 and 12) still lived in Colorado, as they did not want to pull the kids from their home and school for a short relocation. The family came out to stay with dad on holidays and also for the whole summer. While dad was working, mom tried to find activities for the boys to do, but with their wide variety of ages and them not knowing many people in the area, it was hard. When she discovered the Library programs, she could not say enough of how wonderful she thought they were.
First, the “Book Bucks” encouraged the boys to read and keep track of their reading over the summer, which was something they hadn’t done much before, but really got into and enjoyed. They were in the Library checking out books multiple times a week. And the programs allowed them to meet other children and have a chance to socialize and learn. The mom told Library staff how much she appreciated the opportunities multiple times, and how her Library in Colorado only tracked how many books kids read, and didn’t incorporate as many programs or as much encouragement, and now her kids loved coming to the Library and reading.
Girl from the Boys & Girls Club
One of our most excited participants this summer came from the Boys & Girls Club. Library staff had been over at the club conducting reading times and book clubs all summer, and were working with many children who came from backgrounds that did not emphasize reading. One of these children, a girl getting ready to enter 5th grade, really found an interest in reading and enjoyed attending the programs and talking to Library staff. She had never had a Library card before, but at the conclusion of the summer program, convinced her parents to bring her to the Library to get a card. Since then, she is a frequent Library visitor, talking with the Reference staff about how to find books she loves- usually scary stories- and what types of reading she is enjoying.
Summer Learning Project
100 of the children attending the Boys & Girls Club, who were in grades K-2, also took part in the Summer Learning Project. They had small group reading instruction, reading clubs, and opportunities for experiential learning. With the advent of the new school year, Southern Pines will compare data on reading test scores from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, and track students' progress!
A Library Proposal
Finally, the Southern Pines Library hosted a literary-themed marriage proposal!
Paul Phillips, Jr., 23, wrote and produced a book about his relationship with Erika Ramos, 23, in the children's section of the library. He hid it in the section, and then pulled out the book ("A Tall Tale") and asked Ramos to read it out loud. Then he dropped to one knee when she turned to the page with the line, "Will you marry me?"
She said yes! They plan to marry in the fall of 2014. They told Lynn Thompson, the Library Director, that they also wanted to read to their future children, so it looks like Southern Pines can expect even more readers to come along.
For a deeper dive into the questions posed by Tell Our Story, click here.