Whew! This last week has been a blur. If you’re in public libraries, then you know that we’ve just entered the roughest, toughest, busiest time of the year. That’s right, the annual Summer Reading Program (SRP). For the last few months, we’ve started our planning and decorating, knowing the huge influx of kids we were about to have.
To keep things easier and more coherent, most state libraries agree on a certain theme nationally. If you’ve been following me for a while, then you might have read my post about last year’s SRP.
Contrary to popular belief, the American Library Association (ALA) DOES NOT decide the themes, but often works with the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) or the Illinois Reading Enrichment and Development (iREAD) program.
(You can read about it all here if you really want.)
Previous themes have been “Dig into Reading” for those like dinosaurs and/or buried treasure, “Spark A Reaction” to get kids into science, and lots of other generic themes. Last year’s theme was “Escape The Ordinary”, which I think was the greatest one ever. From what I’ve seen in the library field so far, a superhero theme is really, really tough to beat. This year’s theme? “Exercise Your Mind“, a sports theme.
I’m sorry, but I’m not loving this theme. Maybe it’s just my perspective, but I think this theme was poorly thought out. As a kid who wasn’t exactly athletic, I turned to things like chess, trivia, books and other intellectual pursuits because I stuck with what I excelled at. Come to think it, most book/library loving people that I know got into books because sports wasn’t their interest and/or forte as kids. Isn’t this how we got the “nerd vs jock” dichotomy? Isn’t there was a documentary about this?
Sure, there are plenty of people out there who have a passion and talent for both sports and books, but I’ve seen that most kids fall to into one or the other. For some kids, this theme might be the opportunity to maybe try new sports and expand their horizons; for the more insecure kids who dive into books to escape sports, they may feel pressured like this theme is being thrust upon them in a “jocks invading the library” kind of way.
I was a bit of both – I turned to books because I wasn’t very good at sports, but books helped me learn about other sports that I’d come to like. I eventually found out that I’m really good at weightlifting (but mostly because I hated running at the time). Maybe I got into it because I started reading about it? Books + weights = informed weightlifter? I’d guess so, because that’s how I joined the high school weight lifting team.
Reading about mud and obstacle runs like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race inspired me to start running, more because of the challenge than anything else. As it turns out, I’m pretty good at it!
However, I think I’m good at it because I’m not competing against other people but against myself to be better than where I was before. Maybe the moral of the story is to read about sports until you find the right one for you. Yeah, I can roll with that!
“Justin, focus. Summer reading?”
Thanks, narrative voice in my head.
To kick off this year’s SRP, I was the main attraction with my super-rockin-awesome-wicked-mad-cool magic show. So cool, I had a patron try to pay me $20 because I have “dedication, attention, and great diction so those of us with hearing aids could understand ever word”…all that stage acting and practice projecting has yet again paid off. I told him I could not take any money, so he donated it to the library instead.
This isn’t the first time this has happened, but I still appreciate that they express how much they enjoy library programs. As one coworker told me, “you’ll never be fired because you make us too much money”. Sounds good to me, can we buy more magic tricks?
Ah, magic – now THERE’S a super power if I’ve ever heard of one. Speaking of superheroes…
I miss you, superhero theme from last year! Come baaaaack!
How do you feel about this year’s SRP? Love it? Hate it? Ambiguously ambivalent?
Til next time,
Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian