Last night I took my two eldest boys, Mark & Christopher, to the party put on by Waitakere Libraries for all children who take part in the summer reading programme. This is an excellent programme put on by various libraries around the country and in Waitakere is sponsored by the various local Rotary clubs. Here’s how it works:
In November children sign up for the programme at a local library that becomes their centre to report back to. The children commit to read for at least 1.5 hours per week from library books and over the next six weeks to check in at least 4 times with the librarians. A librarian sits down with each child and talks to them about their books and reading, what they enjoyed or didn’t like.
Each child gets a pack at the start of the programme that has log sheets, activities etc. in it. At each check-in they get a stamp/sticker on their chart and a small reward (based around a theme – this year “dinosaurs” (Jurassic Joyride was the programme title)). Then at the end of the programme the children get invited to a party (held at Te Atatu Community Centre) with magicians, clowns, a disco, food and drink and prizes for best costume, best dancing and for completing the programme (all kids who complete it get a medallion, certificate and a book).
My observations of the programme:
- The children like the interaction and stimulus of being engaged by the librarian about their reading.
- We go to the library more often than normal.
- Our boys reading skills pick up markedly.
- It free – no costs to the families except time. (The party is free too).
- At the party the ethnic mix of children (& their families) was huge.
- 500 children signed up in Waitakere – they had to cap numbers!
- 80% of children completed their contracts.
- It’s now been running every year since 1998.
- It’s fun.
It’s pretty inspiring really. Compared to some of the things I see churches etc. doing I think we might be better throwing our resources into the hat like this – incarnational action and the Kingdom in the real world. Improved literacy, kids and families having fun, crossing all sorts of ethnic and financial boundaries and being part of the community.
Some more information at:
Oh and by the way, Christopher won an amazing Origami stegosaurus for outstanding dancing!