Goals and Purpose

The goals of the Texas Reading Club are to encourage the children of Texas to read for pleasure, to help children maintain and improve reading skills, and to encourage them to be lifelong readers and library users. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that children who read for enjoyment and who select reading materials that match their own interests succeed in school and in life. Reading during school vacations allows children to maintain and improve reading skills achieved during the academic year. Children who enjoy regular visits to the library are more likely to continue to be readers and library supporters as adults. In many communities, the library plays an important role by equalizing access to information, technology, creative experiences, and educational and recreational materials for all children and their caregivers.

The purpose of this manual is to assist library staff and volunteers who serve young people by suggesting programs and materials that will attract children to the library. Once children and families recognize that the library is a friendly, welcoming place, they will find materials and programs that encourage enjoyable learning. When all children in Texas have opportunities to enjoy library materials, programs, and services, we will have achieved our goal.

Using this Manual

The chapters in this manual are arranged to allow library staff and volunteers to select program ideas that are appropriate for toddlers, preschool children, elementary school children, and young adults. Ideas are also provided for opening and closing celebrations or special events that include a variety of ages. A bilingual chapter provides ideas for programming for Spanish-speaking children and families. Each chapter includes a combination of the following components, as appropriate:

  • Books to Share, Display, and Booktalk
  • Bulletin Boards, Displays, Decorations, and Nametags
  • Fingerplays, Rhymes, Poetry
  • Songs or citations to books and Web sites where lyrics and music can be found
  • Riddles and Jokes
  • Refreshments
  • Crafts
  • Games and Activities
  • Guest Speakers and Performers
  • Audio Recordings, Audio Books, and Films
  • Web-based Activities, Web sites, and CD-ROMs
  • Reader’s Theater Scripts, Puppet Shows, and Stories, or citations to books and Web sites where these can be found
  • Professional Resources for additional program planning

A Note About Web Sites

Web-based activities are games, activities, projects, or other interactive resources for children and young adults to use independently. Librarians may bookmark those cited in the chapters on the library’s computers or display them near the computers. Other Web sites are recommended for background information, instructions, or additional resources. They are suitable for children or for use by the library staff and volunteers to provide additional activities. Some Web sites are included in the Professional Resources sections. These are resources for the library staff and are not likely to be of interest to youngsters.

All of the Web sites were active as of September 2003. Sites often change, move, or are removed. It is advisable for librarians to view the Web sites before giving them to children. If an error message appears, it may be necessary to search the Web page title using a search engine to find the new location of the site.

The Texas Reading Club manual provides suggestions for web sites related to programs for children of various ages. These web pages may contain links to additional web sites. These web sites are managed by organizations, companies, or individuals which are not under the control of the Texas State Library, and the Texas State Library is not responsible for the information or links that you may find in them. The Texas State Library provides links to these sites merely as a convenience and the presence of these links is not a Texas State Library endorsement of the sites.


Two songs are included in this manual: an original theme song by Purly Gates and a “piggyback” song by Sally Meyers. Purly Gates’ songs is also available as a sound file on the Texas State Library and Archives Web site at www.tsl.texas.govthemesong.html and on the manual on CD-ROM and may be used without fee for any non-commercial library use in Texas.

Clip Art

Texas libraries may use the clip art included here for crafts, programs, flyers, decorations, and other library-related materials. Enlarge or reduce the art, reverse it, flip it, or crop it, but do not alter it in any other way. The clip art is the intellectual property of the artist, Diane Greenseid, but Texas public libraries have the right to use it for any library purposes now and in the future. For additional information on appropriate use of the clip art, refer to the section of this manual entitled, "Acceptable Use of Clip Art."

Use the clip art to create:

  • Craft items
  • Bulletin board decorations
  • Tabletop or shelf decorations
  • Program mementos
  • Coloring sheets
  • Refrigerator magnets or other incentives

Commercial vendors may use the clip art to create incentives and promotional items for Texas libraries but must contact the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for specific guidelines and must agree to honor the artist's copyright.

Library Outreach

Sticker: the library visited me today!

It is our goal to reach as many children as possible and provide them with opportunities to learn about the library and the joys of reading. Many children are not able to come to the library on their own. Parents, especially in working and low-income families, may not know about library programs and services or may not have the time to bring their children to the library. It is important that librarians reach out to all kids, especially to those who might otherwise not have opportunities for literature-related experiences. Underserved children may include those with disabilities, those in families where English is not the first language, and those whose families lack the financial resources for transportation. Regardless of economic and family resources, many young children are in childcare and Head Start centers during the day.

While we certainly want to encourage children and families to visit the library, we must also bring library programs and services to children and families who might not otherwise be aware of our programs or have access to them. Librarians are encouraged to sponsor reading clubs in childcare and Head Start Centers, recreation centers, health clinics, housing projects, and other locations where children are during the day. Volunteers may help bring depository collections of books and reading club supplies to outreach locations. Inform the staff at partner organizations that they may be eligible for a group or business library card that allows them to borrow materials for the children they serve.

To reach out into the community, plan programs, such as storytimes, crafts, puppet shows, and other events at community locations. These may be one-time events, such as storytime at a grocery store, or on-going partnerships with schools, children's museums, or recreation centers. One of the most successful off-site programs at Austin Public Library is a family sing-along that takes place in a nursing home. The children love singing with the residents, and the elderly people enjoy being with the kids and their families.

Link the outreach activity to the library by giving children stickers, bookmarks, flyers, or other materials to take home. Upstart sells stickers that proclaim "I visited my library today". Librarians may easily make stickers with labels and a printer. Invite families to visit the library. Not only will your program statistics increase, but also you will see an increase in traffic at the library and you will have demonstrated the library’s commitment to serving all children. Often librarians take it for granted that everyone knows they are welcome in the library. Don't assume—invite and welcome!

Marketing, Cooperation, and PR

Marketing is an important part of planning a successful program. There are often so many events in even the smallest communities, and children and families may not know about the wonderful programs scheduled at the library. Advertise, promote, and market in as many ways as possible. Promotion is not a one-time activity. Often people do not "pay attention" to publicity until they need to hear what you have to say, so make sure that your message is repeated time and time again. Promotion must be ongoing, consistent, reliable, and fresh. Press releases and other items to promote the 2004 Texas Reading Club will be available on the Texas State Library Web site at

While much of a library’s marketing efforts will focus on attracting an audience and ensuring that parents know about the programs, marketing also includes telling the story of what has happened. People who may never step foot into the library should still be aware of the library's programs and services. Administrators, funders, and support groups need to know about the interesting and successful programs you do. If you don't tell your story, who will? Moreover, often a little publicity leads to additional and unanticipated opportunities.

As part of your public relations efforts, put together a media kit. This does not have to be elaborate but should include:

  • Press releases
  • A schedule of events
  • A feature story about the Texas Reading Club
  • Public service announcements for radio
  • Publicity letters for newspapers, schools, and city officials

Press releases follow a standard format. For most media outlets today, the writing does not have to be fancy. It must, however, include enough information to sound newsworthy. Newspapers in small communities often print the entire press release as a "news" story and may even print a photograph if one is included. In larger communities, the newspaper may only list the basic facts. While digital photos are often acceptable, check the file format and resolution that are required.

Follow these tips for successful press releases:

  • Get the press release in on time. Check for deadlines and then be early; space is usually limited.
  • Use simple sentences, straightforward language, and short paragraphs.
  • Put the most important information first. You can add information if space permits. Do not try to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning press release.
  • Double check or, better yet, have someone else check, spelling and grammar, the date and time of the event, address, and phone number.
  • Submit regular press releases throughout the program. Do not expect one press release to serve for your entire program.
  • Print your press release on library letterhead.
  • Double-space all releases that are submitted on paper.
  • Limit the release to one page or less.
  • Attach a Texas Reading Club flyer to your press release.
  • Include contact information so the media will know how to reach you for more information or to cover your program in more detail.

For more information about publicity, please read Marketing the Texas Reading Club, available from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). Call 1-800-252-9386 to request a copy. Or, view it online at

The first paragraph of a press release is the lead and it sets the stage for the message. Make your point quickly!

The 2004 Texas Reading Club, Color Your World…Read!, provides opportunities for children ages 3 through 12 to enjoy reading. It begins on June 2, 2004 at the Indian Paintbrush Public Library. This free program is co-sponsored by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and includes weekly reading activities and events.

Add details in the next paragraph and, if possible, include a human-interest angle or a quote. It is appropriate to "tell" your director what he or she needs to say.

"More than 200 children read for over 1000 hours last summer," said Library Director I. M. Reading. "This year we anticipate that the children of Indian Paintbrush will break that record and read for at least twice as many hours." Local school officials applauded the public library for its efforts to help local school children maintain and improve their academic skills.

Provide additional information, such as the library Web site, phone number, hours, etc.

Information about the Texas Reading Club is available by calling 555-1234 or on the Library's Web site, Programs will run through July 31, 2004. The Indian Paintbrush Public Library is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m.

Add a headline at the top and put your contact information at the bottom of the press release. Date the press release and, if the information is for immediate publication, say so. Most libraries do not need to send “embargoed” press releases requesting that information not be published before a certain date. Even though the press release may repeat some information, it is important to include all of the programs in case something is cut.

Sample Press Release

May 15, 2004

For immediate release

Public Library Announces Summer Reading Program for Paintbrush Children

The 2004 Texas Reading Club, Color Your World…Read!, provides opportunities for children ages 3 through 12 to enjoy reading. It begins on June 2, 2004 at the Indian Paintbrush Public Library. This free program is co-sponsored by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and includes weekly reading activities and events.

"More than 200 children read for over 1000 hours last summer," said Library Director I. M. Reading. "This year we anticipate that the children of Indian Paintbrush will break that record and read for at least twice as many hours." Local school officials applauded the public library for its efforts to help local school children maintain and improve their academic skills.

Information about the Texas Reading Club is available by calling 555-1234 or at the Library's Web site, Programs will run through July 31, 2004. The Indian Paintbrush Public Library is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m.

Contact: Mary Reader

Indian Paintbrush Public Library

1234 Book Buyer Road

Indian Paintbrush, TX 12345

Phone 555-1234

Most community newspaper editors want "just the facts." What you write may encourage the editor to assign a reporter to cover your program, in which case the reporter will call for more details.

If there is more than one newspaper in your community, it is not necessary to personalize each press release. If you address the release to a specific individual, it is important to spell the person's name correctly.

Most newspapers, radio stations, and television outlets now accept press releases via e-mail or fax. This saves time and postage. Prepare the press release on stationary if it will be faxed. If it will be sent via e-mail, write it in letter style. Do not send an attachment. Some e-mail services will not accept them and your message will be ignored or returned. If you do use e-mail and are sending the same press release to several outlets, hide the e-mail addresses by using the list function in your e-mail software so that a long list of addresses does not take up the first screen of your message. This also prevents the editor from seeing that he or she is not a unique recipient.

Check the media outlet's Web site for deadlines, contact information, and other requirements, or call to get this information. Monthly publications have deadlines 6 to 8 weeks before the publication date. Most other venues like to receive information 10 to 14 days in advance. While timeliness is essential, it is not a good idea to send your press release too early as it might be misplaced or discarded.

If you do not know all of the local newspapers in your community, you may find many of them on Newslink at You may look for local business newspapers, alternative and specialty journals, college publications, and ethnic newspapers. Many communities have Spanish-language or Hispanic cultural publications, weekly newspapers for the African-American community, and publications for other community groups. For example, college newspapers will reach married students and single parents. Austin Public Library regularly submits information about library programs to a publication called The Good Life. It is aimed at "older" adults but many readers are non-custodial parents or grandparents who may be looking for children's activities.

Another outlet for free publicity is the community events or calendar section of media Web sites. Most television stations, newspapers, radio stations, and official city or county Web sites have calendars. Submit information about library programs about two weeks in advance. Remember also to submit information to local cable television stations. Many run community information bulletins.

Let your Friends of the Library, city or county officials, and staff and volunteers know about the Texas Reading Club. They will be some of your best sources for word-of-mouth marketing and may be willing to include information in their church newsletter, company e-mail, or other publicity venues.

Public relations and marketing is a cumulative process. It cannot be done just one time. Submit press releases consistently and regularly. Talk with the media contacts and solicit their support as co-sponsors of your program. Thank them for past support, even if it was not as much as you would have liked. Suggest feature stories that highlight your library, your programs, and the Texas Reading Club. Feature stories to suggest might include:

  • Art exhibits in the library
  • A rainbow of programs for children and families
  • Kick-off parties
  • End of summer celebrations
  • Multi-cultural programs (bilingual storytimes, programs that celebrate cultural heritage)
  • Teen volunteers
  • Audiobook suggestions for family trips

Cooperation with Schools

One of the most effective methods for increasing participation in the reading club is through partnerships with local schools. Ask school librarians and teachers to encourage students to join the reading program. If possible, visit the schools and distribute information about the library.

Begin planning school visits as early as possible in order to promote your summer program before the school year ends. Begin by writing a letter to the district superintendent in February. Remind the superintendent that public libraries are natural allies in education. Specifically request permission to contact the schools and ask the superintendent to endorse the library's reading program.

As soon as you receive permission to do so, contact the principals or school librarians. Write to the librarian or teachers to schedule school visits in April and/or May. School visits can be brief and simple or they can be longer programs, depending on the amount of time and staff available. At a minimum, let the students know who you are, that the library is planning programs and activities for them, and that you look forward to seeing them in the library. If time permits, tell a story, share some jokes, present a puppet show, sing songs, or lead a simple craft related to the Texas Reading Club theme. Leave bookmarks or flyers for the students to take home and leave a poster at the school with the dates of your program.

Ask teachers, especially kindergarten through second grade teachers, to discuss the importance of summer reading with parents at the final parent-teacher conference. Teachers have a great deal of influence with parents and their recommendation will often encourage parents to follow through with summer reading.

Ask if the school will be conducting summer classes or providing summer childcare. Teachers and activity leaders are often eager to cooperate on entertaining projects that support learning. Children attending summer school or participating in school camps or childcare become a "captive" audience for your programs.

Remember to contact private schools. Many require their students to read during the summer and the Texas Reading Club can help make that requirement more enjoyable and fulfilling. Childcare centers and preschools are also often looking for opportunities to collaborate with the library. Children can participate in the Texas Reading Club by recording titles of books that are read to them or that they read at the childcare center. Schedule group visits to the library or bring library programs to the centers.

Sample Letter to Schools

Dear Colleagues:

The Indian Paintbrush Public Library, in cooperation with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, is sponsoring the 2004 Texas Reading Club this summer. This year’s theme is Color Your World…Read!

Programs and activities are planned to stimulate curiosity, promote reading as a leisure activity, and encourage children to use library resources. The Texas Reading Club is self-paced and fosters reading success by asking children to record titles of books that they read or the length of the time they spend reading each day. A beautiful certificate created by renowned illustrator Diane Greenseid and signed by Governor Perry will be awarded to each child who attains reading goals.

Additionally, the library has scheduled an array of activities to keep children productively occupied throughout the summer. All library programs and activities are free.

I would appreciate your help in encouraging students to visit the public library this summer. At your convenience, I would like to visit your school during May to introduce your students to the Texas Reading Club. I will call next week to arrange a time. I look forward to working with you and your students.


Mary Reader

Children's Librarian

Indian Paintbrush Public Library

Phone 555-1234


Suppliers for Incentives, Crafts, and Program Materials

Contact information is provided below for the suppliers mentioned in this manual. However, the materials recommended in the chapters are often available locally. Librarians are encouraged to purchase supplies at local stores, or from those listed in this manual.

Art Supplies Online
718 Washington Ave North

Minneapolis MN 55401


Asia For Kids
4480 Lake Forest Dr. #302

Cincinnati, Ohio 45242


Avery Office Products
50 Pointe Drive

Brea, CA 92821


P.O. Box 3239

Lancaster, PA 17604


P.O. Box 7488

Madison, WI 53707-7488



Guildcraft Arts and Crafts
100 Fire Tower Drive

Tonawanda, NY 14150-5812


P.O. Box 18699

Cleveland Heights, OH 44118


8000 Bent Branch Dr.

Irving, TX 75063


Oriental Trading Company
P.O. Box 2308

Omaha, NE 68103-2308


S and S Worldwide
PO Box 513

75 Mill Street

Colchester, CT 06415


Sax Craft Supplies
2725 S. Moorland Rd.

New Berlin, WI 53151


Sherman Specialties
114 Church Street

Freeport, NY 11520


P.O. Box 2543

Spartanburg, SC 29304


W5527 State Road 106

P.O. Box 800

Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0800


Serving Children with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public libraries to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities so that they have access to the library building, programs, and materials. As you plan for the 2004 Texas Reading Club, remember that programs that work for children with disabilities will also work for all children. With a little planning, inexpensive adaptations, and the desire to be inclusive of all children, the Texas Reading Club will be accessible for children with disabilities. In addition to being the law, inclusiveness is good policy and encourages more participation in library programs.

Check with local schools for sign language interpreters. Check with sign language classes and invite several students to practice what they have learned. Find out where in your community you can locate sign language interpreters in case you need to hire someone to interpret a program. Often interpreters will volunteer their time in order to make library programs inclusive. Send special invitations to families with deaf children; the deaf community is very appreciative of efforts to include all children in programs and is very supportive of staff and volunteers who are willing to try signing. Create a display of captioned videos and books that include sign language.

The Talking Book Program (TBP), a division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), has a Disability Information and Referral Center (DIRC) that provides information about adaptive equipment, games and toys, support groups, the ADA, and serving people with disabilities. Questions are answered by DIRC staff are referred to other appropriate sources. The DIRC can be reached toll-free at 1-800-252-9605 or 512-463-5458, or by e-mail at

The Talking Book Program is a joint state and federal program that provides unabridged books in alternate formats for Texans of all ages who are unable to read standard print materials due to visual, physical, or reading disabilities. The service is free to the user and available to anyone who qualifies because they are unable to read standard print materials due to temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations.

A properly certified application must be submitted for each prospective patron verifying that the application meets one or more of the federal eligibility criteria.

The criteria are:

  • Blindness;
  • A visual disability of sufficient severity to prevent the reading of standard print without the use of an aid other than prescription glasses;
  • A physical disability that prevents the individual from holding a book or turning a page; or
  • A reading disability that is physically based and of sufficient severity to prevent the reading of standard print material in a normal manner.

Applications submitted for individuals with reading disabilities must be certified by a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy. Applications submitted for individuals with other disabilities can be certified by a number of professionals in various fields related to health care, education, or rehabilitation, or by a professional librarian or library director.

TBP provides books on cassette tape, in Braille, and in large print. Special playback equipment is loaned free of charge for use with books on cassette. All materials are circulated to TBP patrons free of charge through the U.S. Postal Service.

Because TBP patrons are located throughout the state and interaction is limited to telephone and mail communications, TBP encourages younger patrons to participate in Texas Reading club activities sponsored by their local public library. TBP will provide the books in alternate formats so that young patrons with disabilities can participate in local programs.

Because library staff understands the importance of books in the lives of their patrons, they play a critical role in referring qualified individuals to the TBP services. Applications and brochures are available to keep in your library. By making this information available in your community and alerting eligible individuals about TBP, you are helping young readers with disabilities make the most of the Texas Reading Club!

Call or write TBP with your questions or requests for applications:

Talking Book Program

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

P.O. Box 12927

Austin, TX 78711-2927

1-800-252-9605 (toll-free in Texas)

512-463-5458 (Austin area)

512-463-5436 (fax) (e-mail)

Web site:


Texas Reading Club 2004 Programming Manual / Color Your World...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011