[In this guest post, Kate Kite, Youth Services Librarian at Wood River Public Library, shares several ideas for this year's iREAD 2012 theme, Reading is So Delicious.]
In the yearly cycle of children’s librarianship, we are always preparing for, implementing, or recovering from the Summer Reading Program. With varying degrees of readiness and numerous approaches to the theme, twenty members of SWAYS (Southwest Advocates for Youth Services) met on March 14th to discuss ideas for the summer. Here are some fruits of our discussion.
The best resource for all things Summer Reading Program is iREAD. In addition to the catalog of products, there are links to the new iREAD wiki and a Flickr page full of craft ideas. The iRead committee members work hard to provide resources and ideas, and always are looking for ideas and materials from librarians statewide.
In a year of tightening budgets, some libraries are hiring fewer performers and opting for more hands-on experiences for the kids. Numerous field trip ideas were mentioned, including local eateries and grocery stores. In more rural areas, perhaps the children could visit a working farm to see food production.
Decorating the library is essential: If your alarm system will allow it, why not hang (fake) food, utensils, or condiment bottles from the ceiling? Highlight a table setting where books are “cooking” or are ready to be served. For a sweeter display, life-sized CandyLand pieces could decorate the children’s area.
There are myriad opportunities for guessing contests this summer. Some ideas included Guess the food (can be adapted for any sense – guess by smell, touch, etc.); Guess the kitchen utensils (obsolete or odd); Guess the slogan, ex. “Have it your way”; Guess the identity of a pantry item from a warped picture; Guess the recipe from the ingredients; or Guess the ingredients from the finished product.
The library could hold a pizza tasting contest where children and/or teens sample pies from various establishments and rate them in a blind taste test. This idea can be adapted for other foods, like cupcakes!
Encourage the children to play with their food and have a contest where they transform a zucchini or potato into a work of art. Give prizes for different categories: Prettiest, Funniest, etc.
If your library is going with a Picnic theme, you could have a Picnic Game Day featuring favorites like “Hi-Ho Cherry-o”, “CandyLand”, and “Ants in Your Pants”. If you have the area for it, roast s’mores over a campfire; if not, make “Solar S’mores” instead! http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/solar-smores-673886/. Celebrate the sweet tooth with an Ice Cream Social, or create a giant ice cream sundae and ask that children bring toppings to share. Another idea is to purchase premade cakes and have a decorating contest.
Food is a necessity at any teen program, so making young adult programs focused on food isn’t too much of a stretch. There are numerous programming ideas for the Hunger Games available on the web. A personal favorite program is to challenge teens to eat unfamiliar and/or unsavory foods in a “Food Fear Factor” contest. Another competition for young adults could be an “Iron Chef” type program, using prepackaged foods and ingredients.
A tasty icebreaker idea from Edwardsville Public Library is “Ice Cream Sundae”. Divide teens into groups, and give each group a different component of an ice cream sundae. The teens then find others with the ingredients to complete the sundae.
Some libraries are making science and nutrition connections with the “Reading is Sooo Delicious” theme. Connect the theme to the natural world like Tri-Township Public Library and have children dissect and “read” owl pellets to see what they find delicious. Familiarize young children with the concept of food groups and healthy versus unhealthy food. Show that healthy foods can be delicious too! Introduce children to international cuisine by highlighting a different type each week. Patrons from different cultures could give food demonstrations.
Ideas for food preparation and cooking with children vary from library to library, as each library has different accommodations and policies. There are plenty of books with opportunities for recipe connections, and two excellent resources for librarians are Book Cooks by Janet Bruno, available for two age groups, and Book Cooks by Cheryl Apgar.
Even if you don’t plan on cooking with the kids, there are still plenty of opportunities to make a mess with food. For adventurous types, consider having a food fight using cooked spaghetti. Make sure to cover the library in plastic beforehand. Have a “Pirate Bash” where children are encouraged “to leave their manners at home”. Think anti-Tea Party, but have one of those too! One contest idea is a Bubble-Blowing Contest with a twist – Contestants must eat a couple Oreos before they try to blow a bubble. Whoever succeeds in blowing a bubble first, wins. Slightly less messy but just as fun is a bobbing for apples alternative where a marshmallow hangs by a string from the ceiling. Start it swinging and have kids attempt to catch it in their mouths.
For most libraries, crafts are a fundamental component of the Summer Reading Program, and our ideas ranged from food production – use trading card envelopes as mini window herb pots – to producing with food – use Hershey’s Kisses to create caterpillars and butterflies. Take the young children shopping using a picture of a shopping cart that they collage with food ad pictures. Or remind them “they are what they eat” by tracing their outline on a piece of paper and having them create a food collage. Bring the craft into a kitchen by creating an apple chalkboard recipe stand from craft sticks or a chef paper bag puppet. “Ice Cream” can be created with a regular ice cone and a painted and decorated foam ball. An alternative is to use a balloon and either rolled paper or a party hat as the cone. As always, be aware of any allergies attendees may have, like a latex allergy.
While we all spend our summer surrounded by food, let’s not forget about those in our community who go hungry. One excellent idea from Freeburg Area Library District was a food drive during their programming. Asking patrons to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to a food pantry is a wonderful way to help our communities.
Wiki – http://ireadprogram.pbworks.com/w/page/50459529/Reading%20Is%20So%20Delicious!
Flickr page – http://www.flickr.com/photos/iread_illinois
Oriental Trading Company (www.orientaltrading.com): Bake shop stickers, aprons, cupcake bank, food ornaments
Guildcraft Arts & Crafts (www.guildcraftinc.com)
Birthday Express (www.birthdayexpress.com): Candyland window decals
Amazon (www.amazon.com) Melissa and Doug products including Chef Puppet; Sweet Treats sticker pad; Sandwich Stacking Game
Sporcle (www.sporcle.com) Numerous fun contests, including “Guess the Candybar”; “Guess the Burger”
Food quizzes can be found at www.sporcle.com/games/subcategory/food
Taste of Home Kids Coloring book (www.tasteofhome.com/Kids-Coloring-Cookbook)
Worth1000 (www.worth1000.com) – Creative photos using effects
Dover Publications (http://store.doverpublications.com/) Has coloring books on theme. Dover will also send free samples to your email each week upon request.
Demco (www.demco.com) has food related reading trackers
Zazzle (www.zazzle.com) Custom t-shirts and other customized items
Shindigz (www.shindigz.com) Party supplies
Thanks to the following Youth Services staff who shared their ideas so willingly:
Donna Asbeck - Six Mile Regional Library District; Janet Andrews -Hayner Public Library District; Annette Bland- Columbia Public Library; Carol Brockmeyer- Daugherty Public Library District; Ivy Cowen- Mascoutah Public Library; Marilyn Engel- Fairview Heights Public Library; Judy Groom- Freeburg Area Library District; Synthia Kalinowski- O’Fallon Public Library; Robin Lovinggood – Tri-Township Public Library (Troy); Sis O’Brien- Bethalto Public Library; Teri Rankin- O’Fallon Public Library; Kay Schuette- Louis Latzer Public Library (Highland); Candy Schuler- Columbia Public Library; Portia Stueve- Valmeyer Public Library ; Karen Volker- Freeburg Area Library District; Heather Watkins- Maryville Public Library; Anne Wolfe- Edwardsville Public Library