Okay, I admit there often SEEMS to be much ado about the summer reading programs at our libraries. Workshops, catalogs, prizes, and buzz. Themes, illustrations, PSA spots, etc., seem to overwhelm us. It is important to summon enthusiasm for promoting our libraries and the treasures they house. All year. Summer just happens to SEEM like an exception because it has different hoopla involved.
Most libraries have programs running all year, that include storytimes, after school events, book groups, dogs to read to, and humans dressed up like book characters, to name a few. It just so happens that summer has a different feel and a theme all it's own. I love workshops and crave them all year, like many/most of you. I am always hungry for the fresh ideas, enthusiasm, motivation, and information from peers. I am not sure that summer reading overshadows the rest of the year for me though.......it's just different and it is a welcome change of routine. While the teachers take some much needed time off from kids, librarians ramp up for the kid onslaught.
The prize trinkets never seem all that important to the kids I work with, and I bet you might find the same at your library. Sure they can be fun. I like a squirty camera as much as the next kid! But the opportunity to interact with children during the SRP is different than during the school year. They are relaxed and do not have any AR points pressuring them, or book reports due the next day. No homework or teachers to keep them tethered to home and school. Extra budget money is spent wisely during SRP because more children can attend the events. They actually have some free time.
I believe our mission can be marketing the wonderful products we have to eager kids. So what if it holds the added incentive of a camera that squirts? The toy will be lost or thrown away by the end of summer, but the words that were read will last a lifetime.