Sunday, July 27, 2008

Book Bucks

There are two weeks left in our Summer Reading Club (not that I am counting down or anything...). I've previously mentioned that at my library we have Summer Reading Clubs for every age. In our Young People's department, we have a club for preschoolers (up through going-into-Kindergarten), grade schoolers (grades 1-5), and "teens" (grades 6-8).

It's the teen club that I want to talk about today. I've worked on our teen club the past two summers and it's definitely been a fun learning process. Last year we decided to introduce the "book buck". Kids earned a book buck for each book they read and they could spend them in our prize "store". We had lots of different prizes (most ordered from Oriental Trading and the like) that ranged in price from 1 to 5 book bucks. We figured that even if a kid only read one book, they'd still be able to get some small prize.

What we did not anticipate was just how much these kids would read. I'm not exaggerating when I say that some of them read over 100 books. We quickly ran out of the higher-end prizes and the kids that cashed in at the end were left buying pencils and bouncy balls. Fearing that many kids may have saved up their book bucks expecting something better at the end of the summer, we put together a silent auction at the end-of-the-summer party and let kids use their book bucks to bid on ARCs and other prizes we had around.

This summer, we kept the book buck format but tweaked the prizes. This year their book bucks can be used to buy slips in our prize drawings or they can save them up for the silent auction at the end of the summer. There's no guarantee that they'll win a drawing, but the prizes are pretty great (several are gift certificates to various places). From what I've seen so far the middle schoolers seem pretty into it. We do a weekly prize drawing for a smaller gift card and each entry costs 1 book buck. At the end of the summer, we'll draw for the grand prizes and each entry for those drawings costs 5 book bucks.

We'll also have a silent auction this year. Again, we have ARCs that we've gotten over the past year and we bought some additional books as well. I have no idea how many kids will show up for the silent auction, but I'm hoping for a big crowd. The kids can check out what books and prizes they can bid on and if they don't see anything they like they can still enter any of the drawings.

One thing that's been really successful this summer is the Teen Review Blog. This was a new thing this year. Previously, the kids in the YA (high school) Summer Reading Club have been required to post a short review of their book on a SRC blog. This is the first year we've done a blog with the teens and it's actually been a much bigger hit than I could have imagined!

The kids receive one book buck for every book they read and they have an opportunity to earn an extra book buck by posting a short review on our teen review blog. In June alone we had over 200 reviews posted on the blog, which is pretty great! Although every blog post is sent to my email, we run it on the honor system when the kids check in to collect their book bucks and we haven't had any problems with it.

So far it's been a really fun summer and I love reading the kids' reviews (some of them are SO GOOD! I think these kids may be our future book bloggers!).