Disclaimer: I no longer represent CPL in any capacity, and anything on this blog has always been my own opinion anyhow.
I worked at my last library for nine years and we were constantly trying to improve our Winter Reading Club. Usually it was very similar to summer in that children and teens would read a certain amount of books for a prize or a chance at a prize. Often we were able to offer admission to the Cleveland Zoo on a designated library day. For a few years we had classrooms across the city competing for a special prize in pursuit of a city-wide reading goal.
The program I’m most proud of being on the team for was our Cover to Cover: Reading, Writing, and the Art of the Book Winter Reading Club in 2010. Cover to Cover focused on the work of three authors with Ohio connections whose work we knew appealed to our patrons. The PS-3rd grade readers focused on Denise Fleming, the 4th-6th graders were encouraged to read Feathers by Jacqeline Woodson, and the teens read The First Part Last by Angela Johnson.
Thanks to a generous grant from Target we were able to buy hundreds of copies of both Feathers and The First Part Last to host book discussions of those titles across the city. Programs encouraging children to design a new cover for Feathers, or design a cover or write a “deleted scene” from The First Part Last gave patrons the chance to win a copy of the book to keep and have their work displayed at our Finale Party at the Morgan Paper Conservatory. Die-cuts in the shape of Ohio with the phrase “I Read an Ohio Author” and space for the readers’ name were provided for display in the branches.
Storytimes and class visits for younger students featured books by Denise Fleming who made multiple school and branch visits throughout the final week of the program and appeared at the finale. I would highly recommend her if you’re looking for an author to visit your library.
Why was this my favorite version of Winter Reading?
- We emphasized quality materials and literacy building activities over the quantity of books read.
- There were no prizes other than books for the cover designs and a shared experience for families at the finale where everyone was welcome.
- Programs and reading took place via the library not the school so not only were students visiting the library but it didn’t increase the workload for hardworking classroom teachers.
- It lasted only the month of January. Previous programs had run December – March, often with the finale in April. It was really hard to keep patron (and staff) enthusiasm going that long.
- Because of the Target grant we were able to provide supplies for the programs including new makers, crayons, and other art supplies that could be used by the branches after the program itself was over. Acquiring supplies was often a complicated and costly process when you are talking about 28 branches, Main Youth Services, and Mobile Services.