Sensational Summer Reading Webinar

In Tuesday’s Booklist webinar, “Sensational Summer Reading: Programming Tips and Titles for Children and Teens,” sponsored by HarperCollins Children’s Books and Candlewick Press, we received some great questions from the audience but unfortunately didn’t have time to address them during the presentation. Two of the webinar presenters, librarians and summer reading mavens Carole D. Fiore and Jeanette Larson, kindly offered to answer some of the questions here.

What titles are story heavy but with language to challenge gifted seventh- and eighth-grade readers?

This is a really broad question because, of course, the answers depend to a great extent on the interests of these readers. A gifted reader can read well above his or her grade level. Look at books like Catching Fire and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Other titles to try include The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce, and Graceling by Kristin Cashore. You may find more suggestions on reading lists aimed at the middle-school age range, such as the Texas’ Lone Star Reading List (don’t worry, the books are not about Texas!).

How do you locate or “really” communicate with non-users if they are not in the library?

Think outside the box to reach non-users. See if you can put fliers up in local grocery stores. Many have community bulletin boards or will sometimes put fliers in the window. You might also want to put fliers and posters at public health clinics. In addition, schools are important in reaching non-users. Teachers can urge their students to participate in public library summer programs. This can be done during the final teacher-parent conference or as part of the comments on the final report card. Talk with the community relations people at local radio stations about putting a PSA on the air. You may want to try the local rap or country music stations—not the NPR station, which users tend to listen to.

Our county library system has cut our funding drastically—are there funding options that you can share?

Almost every library is facing funding challenges, so you are not alone. Start by looking for free or low-cost support for your program. Often we overlook asking for community support and being specific about our needs. Ask local businesses if they have a community giving program. Many insurance agents can give small gifts outright through their office, but also look for the grants and giving information on the company’s Web site. Local outlets of national chains, like Walmart stores and Family Dollar stores, have community giving programs, and many stores, including grocery stores, will donate in-kind materials (like trays of cookies and small toys for incentives). Subscribe to the Library Grants blog, for postings about additional sources. It takes time, of course, to learn whether a grant is funded, so start early, but also look to your community for funding sources that are more immediate. Make a wish list and share your needs!

I am trying to improve summer reading for our school. Most of my students qualify as reluctant readers and are geographically diverse. Would a Web-based program work for them?

A Web-based program would entice many reluctant readers, as they do like to use computers. For this to be successful though, you’d need to have wonderful graphics and lots of activities that participants can do independently. They also need to have access to computers—and not just at the library. Do these reluctant readers participate in summer activities at agencies such as Boys and Girls Clubs, parks and recreation centers, and summer camps? Partnering with these and other agencies will help reach underserved audiences.

Where do you get permission or a license for a program?

There are several agencies from which you can purchase a public performance license. Major Hollywood and independent movie studios have appointed Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. as their exclusive licensing and distribution partner to offer their box-office hits for public performance in non-theatrical markets (markets outside theaters). Swank represents Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Dreamworks Pictures, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate, MGM, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Tri Star Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Focus Features, Miramax Films, Overture Films, Warner Independent, Paramount Classics, Paramount Vantage, Fine Line Features, HBO, Hallmark Hall Of Fame Productions, United Artists, National Geographic, ThinkFilm, Magnolia Pictures, Newmarket Films, First Look Studios, First Independent Pictures, Monterey Media, and many other independent studios.

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