The theme of the Texas Reading Club 2011 is Dig Up a Good Book! The programs provided in this manual invite children to explore the marvelous cultural heritage of our state. Texas librarians translated this theme into Spanish as ¡Excave un libro bueno! The theme invites children to explore travel, geography, cultures, and various means of transportation.
Goals and Purpose
The goals of the Texas Reading Club are to encourage the children and families of Texas to read for pleasure, to help children maintain and improve their reading skills, to encourage them to become lifelong readers and library users, and to establish reading as a foundation for academic success.
The purpose of this manual is to assist library staff and volunteers who serve young people by suggesting programs and materials which will attract children to the library for enjoyable learning experiences and to read. When all children and families in Texas know that the library is a friendly and welcoming place and have the opportunity to enjoy library materials, programs, and services, we will have achieved our goal.
Research continues to demonstrate that when children have the freedom to select books they want to read, they read more. The school curriculum frequently demands that students read certain books, and school programs may require that students read books from lists and be tested on those books. Reading for pleasure means having the freedom to read what is pleasing to the reader. Programs like the Texas Reading Club are designed specifically to encourage free-choice reading.
Research also shows that reading during school vacations allows children to maintain and improve reading skills achieved during the academic year. This is especially critical for new readers and for children who have difficulty reading. 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. For more information on research related to summer reading and public libraries, consult the section of this manual titled, "Research Related to Summer Reading."
Using This Manual
The chapters in this manual are arranged by age level to allow library staff and volunteers to select program ideas that are appropriate for toddlers, preschool children, and elementary school children. Ideas are also provided for opening and closing celebrations that include a variety of ages and the bilingual programs chapter includes program ideas for children of all ages.
While volunteers and staff new to children's programming will find all of the necessary information to conduct programs in the chapters of the Texas Reading Club manual, more experienced staff may select specific elements, or mix-and-match to create their own programs. In most cases, more than enough material is provided for a typical 30-60 minute program, allowing the staff and volunteers to select the ideas that best match the community's interests, resources, and opportunities. Many of the professional resources listed in the programs have additional ideas to extend or adapt the programs found in the manual.
Please also note the information concerning public performance of music and film in library programs and the summary of the research on the importance of summer reading which are both included in the introduction. Each chapter includes a combination of the following components:
- Books to share, display, and booktalk
- Fingerplays, rhymes, and poetry
- Songs or citations to books and websites where lyrics and music can be found
- Riddles and jokes
- Reader's Theater scripts, puppet plays, and stories, or citations to books and websites where these can be found
- Games and activities
- Guest speakers
- Bulletin boards, displays, decorations, and nametags
- Audio recordings, Videos/DVD's/Films
- Web-based activities, websites, and CD-ROMs
- Professional resources for additional program planning or for library staff to use within a program
Children's book illustrator, Keith Graves, created the exquisite artwork for the Texas Reading Club 2011. The clip art is the intellectual property of the artist, Keith Graves, but Texas libraries have the right to use it to promote the Texas Reading Club 2011 and their libraries in accordance with the "Acceptable Use of Artwork" included in this manual. The clip art is available on the Texas Reading club website. Librarians may enlarge or reduce the art, reverse it, flip it, or crop it, but may not alter it in any other way. Texas libraries may use the clip art for crafts, programs, flyers, decorations, and other library-related materials. For example, use the clip art to create any of the following items:
- 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.
Two theme songs are included in this manual: A piggyback song by Sally Meyers and an original theme song by singer/songwriter, Susan Elliott and the Non-Toxic Band. The words to the piggyback song are included in the manual. Susan Elliott's theme song is available as a sound file on the Texas State Library and Archives website at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/projects/trc/2011/index.html. A statement of Appropriate Use of Theme Song is included below. The recording may be used without fee for any non-commercial library use in Texas in accordance with the Appropriate Use of Theme Song.
A Note About Websites
Websites with background information or instructions on program topics, with additional resources on the program topics, or with online activities for children are recommended for many of the programs. These are suitable for children or for use by the library staff and volunteers to provide additional activities. Librarians might bookmark those sites intended for children on the library's computers or display them near the computers. Some websites are also included in the professional resources sections, and some books for professional use are noted as being available through NetLibrary, a TexShare resource. These are resources for the library staff and are not likely to be of interest to youngsters. A brief annotation has been provided to help you determine how the site or book might fit your program.
All of the websites were active as of January 2011. Sites often change, move, or are removed. It is highly advisable for librarians to view the websites before directing children to them. If an error message appears, it may be necessary to search for the web page title using a search engine to find the new location of the site. Additionally, librarians might use a search engine to locate another website that includes the referenced information. In several instances, videos on YouTube are suggested. As a file sharing website, these videos may come or go at the whim of the person who uploaded the content. Some may be removed due to copyright violations. Occasionally, websites lapse and are taken over by inappropriate content. While the Texas State Library and Archives Commission does everything possible to find websites that are reasonably stable, and will remove inappropriate sites from the online copy of the Texas Reading Club Manual, it is imperative that library staff view the sites before allowing children to use them to ensure that the content remains suitable. Usually suitable alternatives can be found with a little research.
Web pages included in this manual may contain links to additional websites which are managed by organizations, companies, or individuals. These sites are not under the control of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the Texas State Library is not responsible for the information or links that they include. This manual provides links as a convenience, and the presence of the links is not an endorsement of the sites by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
It is our goal to reach as many children as possible and provide them with opportunities to learn about libraries and the joys of reading. Many children are not able to come to the library on their own. Many young children are in childcare and Head Start centers during the day. Parents, especially in low-income families, may not know about library programs and services or may not have the time or transportation to bring their children to the library. It is important that librarians reach out to all youth, especially those who might otherwise not have opportunities for literature-related experiences. Librarians are encouraged to establish outreach programs for underserved children, including those with disabilities, those in families for which English is not the first language, and those whose families lack the financial resources for transportation.
While we certainly wish to encourage children and families to visit the library, library staff and volunteers must also bring library programs and services to children and families who may not be aware of library programs, or who may not have access to them. Librarians are encouraged to collaboratively sponsor reading clubs in locations throughout the community where children are during the day, such as childcare and Head Start centers, recreation centers, health clinics, housing projects, and other locations. Library staff may encourage staff at partner organizations to apply for a group or business library card that allows them to borrow materials for use by the children they serve. Volunteers may assist by bringing depository collections of books and reading club supplies to the outreach locations.
Another way to reach underserved children and families is to bring library programs, such as storytimes, crafts, puppet shows, and other events to locations in the community. These may be one-time events, such as storytime at a grocery store or shopping center, or ongoing partnerships with schools, children's museums, or recreation centers. Often local shopping malls, movie theaters, museums, and other entities sponsor summer "camps" which provide weekly activities for children. Contact the organization and offer to help by providing a storytime or craft activity.
Connect outreach activities to the library by giving children bookmarks, flyers, or other materials to take home. Distribute items such as stickers that proclaim, "I visited my library today" which are available through Upstart, http://www.highsmith.com.
Alternatively, make custom stickers with adhesive labels and a printer. Not only will program statistics increase, but there will also be an increase in traffic at the library, and the library has demonstrated a commitment to serving all children.
Librarians sometimes believe that everyone knows they are welcome in the library. However, this is not always the case. Make the effort to invite and welcome children and families to visit the library.
Every Child Ready to Read @ your library®
Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® is a joint project of the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children, both divisions of the American Library Association. Current research on early literacy and brain development indicates that it is never too early to prepare children for success as readers and learners. Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® incorporates the latest research into a series of parent and caregiver workshops. Training kits for workshops, videos, posters, brochures in Spanish and English, information about research, and more are available from the American Library Association at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/ecrr/index.cfm. These resources provide public librarians with vital tools to help inform parents of newborns, toddlers, and preschoolers of their critical role as their children's first teacher. They also enable librarians to offer early literacy workshops for parents in their community.
Researchers have found that there is almost a 90% probability that a child will remain a poor reader at the end of the fourth grade if the child is a poor reader at the end of the first grade. There is a clear relationship between the early literacy skills children have when they enter school and their later academic performance. Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® emphasizes six important pre-reading skills that children must understand in order to successfully learn to read. In the Toddler Programs Chapter of this manual, there are suggestions for ways to incorporate these early literacy skills into the summer reading programs.
- Narrative Skills: Being able to describe things and events and tell stories.
- Print Motivation: Being interested in and enjoying books.
- Letter Knowledge: Knowing letters are different from each other, knowing their names and recognizing letters everywhere.
- Phonological Awareness: Being able to hear and play with the similar sounds in words.
- Vocabulary: Knowing the names of things.
- Print Awareness: Noticing print, knowing how to handle a book, and knowing how to follow the words on a page.
Use some of the suggested techniques to incorporate the six pre-reading skills into storytimes during Texas Reading Club programs and throughout the year. Begin by displaying an Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® poster in the storytime room. Before storytime, remind parents of their important role in early literacy and encourage them to attend storytime with their children. At storytime, briefly describe one or two of the six pre-reading skills and model them for the parents.
- Read a book or tell a flannel story. After you finish, ask the children to tell you the order in which the characters appeared in the story or the plot. If you are using a flannel board, let the children place the characters on the board in the order in which they appeared in the story.
- Read a book or tell a simple story. After you finish, encourage the children to tell their version of the story to someone at home or on the way home from storytime.
- Teach the children a repetitive word or phrase from a book or story. Ask them to listen and repeat the word or phrase whenever it is used in the story.
- Show your enthusiasm and enjoyment of books as you read them during storytime.
- Display additional books related to the storytime theme and encourage the children to check them out after storytime.
- Begin reading a storytime book. At a crucial point momentarily close the book, and see if the children react.
- Incorporate the first letter of your weekly theme into your storytime. For instance, if the theme is pigs, display an upper and lower case "P" and demonstrate the letter's sound. Have the children repeat the sound.
- Make nametags for the children to wear each week.
- Display posters and signs in the storytime room.
- Invite the children to play with letter puzzles after storytime.
- Sing songs that allow children to hear how words are broken into syllables. For example, sing "The Eensy Weensy Spider" and clearly enunciate the syllables.
- Read a book or present a flannel board story with rhyming words. Repeat the rhyming words when the story ends.
- Recite Mother Goose and other simple rhymes. Ask the children to repeat them.
- If a book contains a word that the children may not know, introduce the word before reading the book and tell the children what the word means. Ask them to listen for the word in the story. After you finish reading a book, repeat the word. Have the children repeat the word and briefly talk about its meaning again. Describe the word in context to the story.
- Connect new words to something the children may have experienced.
- Display objects or pictures representing new words.
- After you read a book or finish a flannel board story, ask the children to name the objects in the story.
- Run a finger under the title of the book as you read it aloud.
- Point to a repetitive word in a story and have the children say it each time you read the word, or have them repeat a refrain.
- Pull a book out of the storytime bag, have a big book placed upside down on a stand, or open a book backwards and hold it incorrectly. Watch to see if the children react. Then show the children the correct way to display or hold a book.
Help parents feel comfortable with their role in their child's literacy development by providing take-home sheets and handouts whenever possible. The handouts can include song lyrics, rhymes, fingerplays, games, and suggestions for additional activities that parents or caregivers can practice with the child between storytimes.
In addition to the resources available through the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® website, materials in manuals provided by the Texas State Library may be used in your library. Copies of past Texas Reading Club manuals, along with other early literacy resources such as "Read to Your Bunny" and "El día de los niños: El día de los libros," are available online at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/pubs/index.html, near the end of the page under "Youth Services."
Several legal issues may affect the programs in the library. If there are questions about a specific situation, please seek legal counsel. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission shares this information but is unable to offer legal advice.
The Bingo Enabling Act
Bingo games fit so many areas of our programs; it is an easy game to play, and can be tailored for almost any topic. While it may be tempting to play "Dinosaur Bingo," "Can You Dig It Bingo," or even "lotería de leer," as summer programs are planned, please be aware that it is a third degree felony, subject to a $10,000 fine and three years of jail time, to sponsor any bingo without a license.
The Bingo Enabling Act forbids libraries, schools, and non-profit organizations to sponsor any type of Bingo game without a license from the Texas Lottery Commission. Licenses are required for all types of bingo, including Mexican Bingo or lotería.
According to the State of Texas Lottery Commission, bingo "means a specific game of chance, commonly known as Bingo or lotto, in which prizes are awarded on the basis of designated numbers or symbols conforming to numbers or symbols selected at random." It is tempting to think that because we don't charge fees to play, or we are basing a game on books, library resources, or educational topics, or that we are not offering any prizes, that the game is not really bingo. If it looks anything like bingo and the winner is determined by chance, then don't take the chance that you'll get in trouble!
Licenses are only available to organizations that hold a 501c exemption from the IRS and have been in existence for at least 3 years. Applying for a license may take 30 to 60 days. Application forms are available online at http://www.txbingo.org. According to the Lottery Commission, a license may cost from $100 to $2500 per year. Libraries with bingo licenses must charge participants who play bingo and must collect taxes. They must maintain records and file quarterly reports with the Texas Lottery Commission. Additionally, "An individual younger than 18 years of age may not play bingo conducted under a license issued under this chapter unless the individual is accompanied by the individual's parent or guardian." For more information on the Bingo Enabling Act, please visit the Texas Lottery Commission's website at http://www.txbingo.org. Specifically, see Subchapter L. Enforcement, Sec. 2001.551. Unlawful Bingo; Offense.
This section will discuss copyright primarily as it relates to public performance of music and videos in library programs and will provide some basic information about copyright as it relates to public libraries. The information is intended to help library staff and volunteers understand issues related to the use of materials protected by copyright in library programs. Please consult an attorney with questions about copyright and fair use. The information provided in this section is not intended to provide legal advice.
Written works such as books, poetry, magazine articles, or jokes, music, and film, are considered creative property and are covered by copyright law unless they are in the public domain. All items are covered by copyright upon their creation by default, regardless of whether the creator registers the copyright or includes a notice of copyright on the work. A creative work that is not protected by copyright is said to be in the public domain. Everyone may freely use works that are in the public domain. A work may be in the public domain if any of the following are true.
- The term of copyright for the work has expired
- The author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright
- The work was created by the U.S. Government
In general, works created before 1923 are now in the public domain. Works created after 1923 are subject to a variety of laws that regulate copyright and renewal of copyright. The Cornell Copyright Information Center at http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/Hirtle_Public_Domain.htm provides an excellent chart outlining copyright terms for various types of materials.
Some writers want their material to be widely available and choose not to enforce copyright. Copyright owners may specifically "license" certain kinds of free use, such as those used for non-commercial or educational purposes. It is important to understand, however, that just because something is "freely available" or can be found in many locations on the Internet, the item is probably still covered by copyright. Assume that someone owns the copyright to material unless there is documentation to the contrary!
Just to add to the complexities, some art becomes so intricately connected to a specific company that even though the copyright may have expired, the material does not become part of the public domain because it is part of the company's trademark. Mickey Mouse, for example, was created in 1920 and therefore should no longer be covered by copyright. However, as a symbol of the Walt Disney Company, representations of Mickey are covered by other rules, and making copies of Mickey Mouse are not allowable.
In order to comply with copyright, this manual included the text of poems, songs, stories, etc., when these items are in the public domain or when specific approval has been granted for their use. Otherwise, information is provided on how to find the material recommended for the program. Whenever possible, links to clip art and patterns that can be freely used for non-commercial purposes in libraries are provided.
For more information about copyright, including fact sheets about fair use and searchable databases to determine copyright ownership, go to the Library of Congress, http://www.copyright.gov/
Questions have been raised about the use of recorded music in public library storytimes and other programs. A public performance is defined as, "one in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances might gather." Damages of a minimum of $750 for each infraction might be levied for unlawful public performance. If you use music in storytimes, programs, puppet shows, and other library programs, you may wish to get legal advice as to whether or not a license is required for those public performances or whether the use is considered "fair use" under copyright laws.
It might be possible to argue that storytimes are an educational setting, in which case exceptions to the exclusive rights of a copyright owner for educational uses might apply. Many libraries have a "curriculum" for preschool storytimes that focus on pre-literacy skills such as learning the alphabet, concepts, and colors, or the early literacy skills. Such "curriculums" would support an argument that the use should meet the requirements for teaching exceptions. If you intend to rely on this exception, you should seek legal advice to gain a more complete understanding of the teaching exception than can be provided by the Texas State Library.
Music that is played while families enter the program room, theme music for puppet shows, a song played to start or end the storytime program each week, background music for gatherings, or music played for a teen program, would probably not be considered either an educational exception or a fair use. For those uses, the library needs a public performance license or licenses. Even if the children sing a song, it is technically considered a public performance, and a license is required unless the song is in the public domain.
Recently a judge found that even karaoke played in a public place violated copyright. When a karaoke machine was set up by a disc jockey in a public place, an investigator for Broadcast Music, Inc. was in the audience. The business and the disc jockey were sued for violation of copyright because the business did not have the appropriate licenses.
It is not always easy to determine if a specific song is in the public domain. For example, "Happy Birthday to You" is a popular song that is not in the public domain, while "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" is a traditional song that is in the public domain. Check out Public Domain Music, http://www.pdinfo.com/, a reference site for songs that may be in the public domain. Keep in mind that just because a song is in the public domain, does not mean that the specific recording of the song is. The artist may have rearranged the public domain song and copyrighted that version; in that case, it is only permissible to use the original lyrics and arrangement, not the copyrighted performance of the music.
Before you start rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, "The copyright police won't catch us, and anyway, we've been doing this forever," stop and think. First, libraries should be in the forefront of protecting copyrighted material and setting a good example for patrons. We tell kids they should not illegally download MP3 files. If we publicly perform music without appropriate permission, our actions are comparably illegal. Second, it's easy to get a public performance license and in fact, your city or county may already have one that covers the library.
The public performance of music is licensed by three organizations. When a songwriter or composer signs a deal for the music to be recorded, that person joins only one of them. As a member of one of these organizations, the musician authorizes that organization to license the public performance of his or her music and collect fees for that use. Libraries may need a license from more than one of these organizations.
Most U.S. songwriters and composers join either the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Performers (ASCAP) at http://www.ascap.com or Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) at http://www.bmi.com. They are the two major licensing organizations in the United States. Both provide low-cost licenses for governmental organizations. A third organization, SESAC, Inc., at http://www.sesac.com is relatively new in the United States. It licenses music that the other two organizations do not. All three organizations provide online databases of performers and titles covered so that what is used is covered by the license you have purchased. If you use varied sources of music, you may need licenses from all three organizations, or you will need to be very selective in your music use!
Chances are good that your city or county already has a license if it offers dance classes at the recreation center, provides musical sing-alongs at the senior activity building, or holds regular outdoor parades or concerts. Check with your public information office, parks and recreation department, purchasing department, or the city or county legal department to see if a license exists and for which licensing organization. If none of these offices are aware of a license, then you can educate them about the need for one. If your city or county does not already have a license, fees are based on population. For a local government with a population of up to 50,000 people, a license would cost $305 a year based on a recent fee schedule for BMI.
There are several different types of "rights." If you plan to include music on a video, website, or in some other manner, please read about relevant licensing requirements or consult legal counsel. Note that the public performance of music via digital transmission (such as over the Web) implicates additional rights that these organizations cannot license. Although these three organizations license performance over the Web of the underlying musical score, it is also necessary to obtain permission to perform via digital transmission the sound recording itself. This is a very complex area of copyright law, so if you are considering making digital transmissions of music, check out How Stuff Works at entertainment.howstuffworks.com/music-licensing for some background, but legal advice is most likely necessary.
Many of the programs suggested in this manual include recommended videos or DVDs. Display the video or DVD for families to borrow if you do not have public performance rights to show the film or the film is too long to show during your program.
Follow copyright law by using films, videos, or DVDs that are in the public domain and those which were purchased with public performance rights or with a site license that allows the library to show "home use" videos. Some of the Texas Library Systems have negotiated pricing for system members, so check with your system office.
The cost of an annual movie license is based on the number of registered patrons and is often less expensive than purchasing public performance rights to show just a few movies. For example, an annual license for a library with 5,000 registered patrons will cost about $300 and covers most major movie studios, including Buena Vista Films and DreamWorks. The average cost per patron for a license to show movies for a year is about five cents. Contact Movie Licensing USA at http://www.movlic.com or call 1-888-267-2658 for details. Be sure to ask a representative of Movie Licensing USA about discounts that may be available. If you are only going to show one movie, such as for a finale party, a one-time license can also be purchased.
Many early comedies, horror films, and cartoons, such as those featuring characters like The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Betty Boop, may be in the public domain. Several businesses that sell public domain films provide lists of films that, to the best of their knowledge, are in the public domain. For example, although Desert Island Films at http://www.desertislandfilms.com does not sell copies to individuals, you can use the list on their website to check whether your library owns films that are free of copyright restrictions.
For additional information, please see the American Library Association Fact Sheet on Video and Copyright at http://www.ala.org/ala/professionalresources/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet07.cfm .
Serving Children with Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public libraries to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities so they have access to the library building, programs, and materials. When planning for the Texas Reading Club 2011, remember that programs created with children with disabilities in mind will work for all children. With a little planning, inexpensive adaptation, 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 or 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 email@example.com.
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 all who qualify 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 applicant meets one or more of the federal eligibility criteria. The criteria are:
- 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
- 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, in large print, on digital cartridge, and via digital download. Special playback equipment is loaned free of charge to qualified patrons for use with audio books on cassette and cartridge. 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. A bibliography of suggested titles for the Texas Reading Club is available from the TBP collection and may be obtained by contacting the Talking Book Program or visiting the TBP website. In addition, titles in the Texas Reading Club 2011 manual bibliography that are available in one or more formats through the Talking Book Program are indicated in the bibliography with the annotation "(TBP)" after the title.
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)
Website: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/tbp or http://www.texastalkingbooks.org
Marketing, Cooperation, and PR
Marketing is an important part of planning a successful program. There are often many events for children and families, even in the smallest communities. They may not know about the wonderful programs scheduled at the library. For a successful program it is necessary to advertise, promote, and market in as many ways as possible. Promotion must be ongoing, consistent, reliable, and fresh. Promotion is not a one-time activity. Often people do not pay attention to publicity until they have a need to hear what you have to say, so make sure that your message is repeated time and time again. Even people who may never step foot into the library should still be aware of the library's programs and services.
Much of a library's marketing efforts will focus on ensuring that parents know both about the programs and attracting an audience. Marketing includes telling the story of the library and its programs. Word of mouth, especially to an audience already in the library, is the most effective marketing tool available. Enlist as many people as possible to tell the library's story. Tell administrators and staff, funders, and support groups such as Friends of the Library about the interesting and successful programs so they can share the stories. Their stories may lead to additional and unanticipated opportunities. If you have limited experience with public relations and marketing, check out the free online PR Toolkit available from the Texas Library Association at http://www.txla.org/html/toolkit/index.html.
As part of your public relations efforts, put together a media kit. This does not have to be elaborate but should include the following:
- Press releases
- Schedule of events
- Feature story about the Texas Reading Club
- Public service announcements for radio
- Publicity letters for newspapers, schools, and city officials
- Samples of Summer Reading Club materials, such as bookmarks and certificates
Press releases follow a standard format. For most media outlets, they do not need to be elaborate. Most community newspaper editors want "just the facts." Press releases must, however, include enough information to attract interest and sound newsworthy. 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. In larger communities, the newspaper may only list the basic facts. Newspapers in small communities often print the entire press release as a "news" story and may even print a photograph, if one is included. Digital photos are often acceptable if they are of high enough resolution to be useable. Review each newspaper's policy about the required file format and resolution. Follow these tips for successful press releases.
Space in newspapers is usually limited. Learn each media outlet's deadlines and send the press release on time or a little early. Generally, it's first-come, first-served for available space unless your press release attracts someone's attention.
- Use simple sentences, straightforward language, and short paragraphs
- Put the most important information first and include additional information further into the press release to be used if space permits
- Accuracy is important! Double-check spelling and grammar, the date and time of the event, the address, and the phone number. Ask someone to proofread your press release
- Submit regular press releases for individual programs throughout the summer. A single press release for an entire series of programs may be overlooked or set aside by the target audience
- 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 the program director for more information or to cover your program in more detail.
The first paragraph of a press release is the lead and it sets the stage for the message. Make the point quickly and grab the readers' attention!
The Texas Reading Club 2011, Dig Up a Good Book!, provides opportunities for children of all ages to enjoy reading. It begins on June 6, 2011 at the Bluebonnet 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 "put words" in your director's mouth by providing a quote.
Provide additional information, such as the library website, phone number, hours, etc.
"Information about the Texas Reading Club is available by calling 555-1234 and on the Library's website, www.ippl.org. Programs will run through August 1, 2011. The Bluebonnet Public Library is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m."
Add a headline at the top (Bluebonnet Kids Celebrate Reading!) and put the contact information at the bottom of the press release. Date the press release and, if the information is for immediate publication, say so. "Embargoed" press releases request that information not be published before a certain date. Most libraries do not need to send embargoed press releases. Even though the press release may repeat some information, it is important to include all of the programs in case something is cut.
May 15, 2011
For Immediate Release
Bluebonnet Kids Celebrate Reading!
Public Library Announces
Summer Reading Program for Bluebonnet Children
The Texas Reading Club 2011, Dig Up a Good Book!, provides opportunities for children of all ages to enjoy reading. It begins on June 6, 2011 at the Bluebonnet 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 Bluebonnet 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 reading skills.
Information about the Texas Reading Club is available by calling 555-1234 and on the Library's website, www.ippl.org. Programs will run through August 1, 2011. The Bluebonnet Public Library is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m.
Contact: Mary Booker
Bluebonnet Public Library
1234 Book Buyer Road
Bluebonnet, TX 12345
Check each media outlet's website for deadlines, contact information, and other requirements, or call to get this information. Monthly publications have deadlines of 6 to 8 weeks before the publication date. Most other venues prefer to receive information 10 to 14 days in advance. While timeliness is essential, it is not a good idea to send a press release too early as it might be misplaced or discarded.
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, you should still write the release in letter style. Do not send a press release as an attachment, as some email services will not accept them and the message may be ignored or returned.
If addressing a press release to a specific individual, it is important to spell the person's name correctly. If you send your press release to more than one media outlet, it is not necessary to personalize each press release. If using e-mail and sending the same press release to several outlets, blind carbon them, or hide the e-mail addresses by using the e-mail software's list function. This will prevent a long list of addresses from taking up the first screen of your message. This also prevents the editor from seeing he or she is not a unique recipient.
Don't overlook smaller newspapers, specialty papers (such as The Greensheet), and neighborhood association newsletters. Especially in larger communities, these media outlets may welcome your publicity, and their readership may reach new markets for the library. If you do not know all of the local newspapers in your community, you will find many of them on Newslink at http://newslink.org/txnews.html. Other helpful alternatives that can be looked at are local business newspapers, alternative and specialty journals, college publications, and ethnic newspapers on this website. 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.
Check your community for monthly newspapers aimed at senior citizens. While they are aimed at "older" adults, many readers are non-custodial parents or grandparents who may be looking for children's activities. Ask a local television or radio station to be a media sponsor for the Texas Reading Club.
Let Friends of the Library, city or county officials, and staff and volunteers know about the Texas Reading Club. They will be some of the 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. Ask these supporters to post information about the Texas Reading Club on their neighborhood association listservs or in local newsletters that reach homeowners, apartment dwellers, and other community residents.
Another outlet for free publicity is the community events or calendar section of media websites. Most television stations, newspapers, radio stations, and official city or county websites have calendars. Submit information about library programs about two weeks in advance. Submit information to local cable television stations also. Many run community information bulletins.
Many libraries have started using blogs and social networking sites like Facebook to promote programs and keep the public informed about and involved in library activities. A blog is a web-based log, somewhat like a diary or journal. You may read an article about library blogs, "Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library's Services" by Darlene Fichter, at Information Today.com at http://www.infotoday.com/mls/nov03/fichter.shtml. As Fichter notes, blogs are a great way to reach younger library users and to let your library's personality shine through. In addition to using blogs to promote the library, some librarians are setting up blogs for young people to share their thoughts about the books they are reading and to recommend books to others. What a great way to promote your reading club!
If you are not currently taking a lot of digital photographs, consider doing so. They are inexpensive to print and you print only what is needed. Many drug stores and one-hour photo labs can produce high quality prints for less than twenty cents each. Of course many of the photographs won't need to be printed at all; just upload them to the library's website, Facebook album, or other online site to share your accomplishments. Many newsletters and newspapers will accept electronic photographs to print with a story. Photographs also make great "thank you" gifts for sponsors and donors. Kodak offers online tutorials and tips for digital photography at its http://www.kodak.com. Click on "Tips and Project Center" and select from an assortment of subjects. 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 any of the following:
- Dig Up a Good Book! programs for children and families
- Kick-off parties and special events
- End of summer celebrations
- Multi-cultural programs (bilingual storytimes, programs that celebrate cultural heritage)
- Teen volunteers
- Audio book suggestions for family trips
- Family reading ideas
- Why summer reading is important
For more information about publicity, read Marketing the Texas Reading Club, available on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission website at http://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/pubs/marketingtrc/.
Cooperation with Schools
One of the most effective methods for increasing participation in the Texas Reading Club is through partnerships with local schools. The Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association, offers a compilation of ideas at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/initiatives/partnerships/coopacts/schoolplcoopprogs.cfm/.
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. Write a letter to the district superintendent in February. Remind the superintendent that public libraries and schools 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 in March 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 free summer 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. The school librarian may be very happy to display the poster in the library.
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. Keep in mind that the last parent-teacher meeting is usually held in March, so start early. Even if you only know the start and end dates for your Summer Reading Program, provide a "teaser" flyer that lets parents know how to get more information. If possible, upload a copy of your summer reading program flyer on your library's website, making it easy for teachers to download, print, and distribute. It is easy to create a pdf file or Word document for the web.
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. School librarians may wish to become outreach sites for your reading club. Children attending summer school or participating in school camps or childcare become a "captive" audience for your programs. If the school has a marquee, ask the principal to encourage summer reading on that sign.
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. Provide outreach collections or encourage childcare providers to apply for teacher's cards.
Letter to Schools
March 12, 2011
The Bluebonnet Public Library, in cooperation with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, is sponsoring the Texas Reading Club 2011 this summer. The theme is Dig Up a Good Book!
Programs and activities are planned to promote reading as a leisure activity, stimulate curiosity, 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 Texas children's book illustrator, Keith Graves, and signed by the Texas governor 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.
Bluebonnet Public Library
1234 Book Buyer Road
Bluebonnet, TX 12345
Suppliers for Incentives, Crafts, and Program Materials
Contact information is provided below for the suppliers specifically mentioned in this manual, as well as for suppliers that carry some of the materials required for crafts and programs. Keep in mind that the materials recommended, or a suitable substitute, are often available locally.
Art Supplies Online
718 Washington Ave North
Minneapolis MN 55401
Avery Office Products
50 Pointe Drive
Brea, CA 92821
Carson-Dellosa Publishing Co.
PO Box 35665
Greensboro, NC 27425-5665
P.O. Box 3239
Lancaster, PA 17604
P.O. Box 7488
Madison, WI 53707-7488
Dick Blick Art Materials
P.O. Box 1267
Galesburg, IL 61402-1267
Discount School Supply
P.O. Box 7636
Spreckels, CA 93962
7575 E. Redfield Rd. #201
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
219 Park Avenue
Emeryville, CA 94608
Guildcraft Arts and Crafts
100 Fire Tower Drive
Tonawanda, NY 14150-5812
11 Academy Road
Cogan Station, PA 17728
Kipp Toys and Novelties
P.O. Box 781080
Indianapolis, IN 46278
3645 Grand Avenue Suite 202
Oakland, CA 94610
8000 Bent Branch Dr.
Irving, TX 75063
Oriental Trading Company
P.O. Box 2308
Omaha, NE 68103-2308
Rhode Island Novelties
19 Industrial Lane
Johnston, RI 02919
S and S Worldwide
PO Box 513
75 Mill Street
Colchester, CT 06415
Sax Craft Supplies
2725 S. Moorland Rd.
New Berlin, WI 53151
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