I already mentioned one of the non-prize incentives that we're using in our Summer Reading Club this year (the gong), but I want to mention another new thing we're trying out this year. As one of their "prizes", kids who finish the Summer Reading Club get to choose any book in the library and we'll put a book plate on it with their name congratulating them on finishing the club.
Now, I'll admit that when we've been explaining the prizes to the kids and we mention the bookplate, it's been mostly parents who have ooohed and aaaahed. I wasn't sure what to expect when the kids started finishing and collecting their prizes. Well, we've had a couple of finishers already (and only 8 days in!) and it seems to be a big hit.
The kids have taken great care to pick out one of their favorite books. We have a template for the book plates and we print them out at the reference desk. We put the book plates in the books and the kids have all been eager to check out "their" book.
Now, it's possible that there may be some obstacles in the future. We all know that library books do not last forever, especially when they're the more popular books. I have no idea if the kids will remember and treasure these books or if they'll move on with their lives and forget they even did it. I don't know what we're going to tell them if one day their book gets weeded and they come in looking for it. Maybe something along the lines of "The book you picked was so fantastic that tons of people read it and wore it out! Maybe next summer you can pick another book!"
But for now, it's been a really positive experience for them and for us. It's been inexpensive for us (the only cost has been labels and printing costs) and it's an immaterial way to reward the kids for reading. Plus, it emphasizes the fact that the library books don't belong to the librarians... they belong to everyone!
Oh, and hitting the gong has been a bit hit, too. I've yet to hear anyone hit it super hard, and all the librarians look up when they hear it but I don't think many of the other patrons have noticed. But the kids are definitely all smiles when they get to take a whack at the gong!