Friday, May 1, 2015

My Summer is Booked!

Thank you to our guest author, Jenna Spiering, Teacher Librarian at North West Junior High in Iowa City for giving us some more information about the ICCSD summer reading program!


The mission of the school library includes fostering and encouraging a love of reading. This mission does not have to end in June and begin again in August, but rather, should continue year round. Each summer, thousands of books sit on our library shelves, unread, during a time when students have an unfettered opportunity to read for enjoyment. During the school year the stress of deadlines, grades and applications often keep our students from finding time to read for enjoyment. However, the summer months provide an important opportunity for students to read books that they choose for pure enjoyment.

To ensure that all of our district’s secondary students have access to books for recreational reading year-round, our “My Summer is Booked” summer reading program provides our students with a reusable tote bag and the ability to check out an unlimited number of books to read for enjoyment during the summer months. 

Allowing students to check out school library books during the summer break ensures that each student has access to reading materials during this important developmental period. Although we have wonderful public libraries in our community, access to these services vary among our student populations.  Distance and accessibility, restrictive fining, and transportation are all factors that determine the levels of access our students have to reading materials in the summer months.  Furthermore, providing students with a reusable bag not only gives students a place to store their books throughout the summer months, but also generates interest, district-wide, in summer reading.

7th graders.PNG7th graders 2.PNG

The program was promoted with posters, announcements, commercials, social media, and bookmarks. Our libraries featured fun displays and a festive atmosphere to make the event more memorable and engaging.

The My Summer is Booked program has proven to be very successful in the Iowa City Community School District. After receiving a grant to purchase bags for our students, all six secondary schools (3 junior highs, 2 high schools, and an alternative high school) offered summer checkout for their students.  Scheduled during textbook return or literacy classes, students were invited enmasse to fill up their bags. In the last week of school, we checked out 4,595 books.

We also opened our libraries twice during the summer months, so that students would have an opportunity to check out new books, return, renew and visit different school libraries in our district. These open hours were supervised by librarians and teachers who volunteered to spend an hour with us. For teachers, it was a chance to get a great book and a chance to talk to future students.

We realized this program would risk the loss of books in our collection, but we were willing to make that potential sacrifice for the good of our students. However, our fears were mostly unfounded - by January of the 2015 school year, we had experienced a 95% rate of return. 

The ICCSD junior high and high school librarians look forward to continuing this summer reading initiative again this year. We will plan to begin expanding this program by offering checkout to incoming 6th graders and will continue to promote the program to our older students. 

Thanks to Jenna for writing! Follow Jenna on Twitter and Instagram @NWJHlibrary!